Vigilant Blog

News, trends and analysis in employment law, HR, safety & workers' comp

Mar 27, 2020

WASHINGTON: Paid Family and Medical Leave law amended

DisabilityLeave LawsWage and Hour 

On March 25, 2020, Governor Inslee signed an amendment to the Washington Paid Family and Medical Leave (WPFML) program (SHB 2614). This bill doesn’t have anything to do with the current pandemic. Instead, it makes technical corrections to the WPFML program, to ensure the intent of the original bill is intact. The new bill signed by the governor makes the following changes immediately:

  • Adds son-in-law and daughter-in-law to the list of qualifying family members.
  • Defines “casual labor” as infrequent or irregular work that happens less than 12 times in a calendar quarter. It also makes it clear that “casual labor” work isn’t assessed premiums and isn’t included in quarterly reporting. Also, casual laborers cannot opt-in for paid family and medical leave benefits.
  • Defines “paid time off” to include vacation leave, personal leave, medical leave, sick leave, compensatory leave, or any other paid leave offered by the employer. It also clarifies that employees may receive paid time off during the waiting week for medical leave or family leave. Any paid time off or hours worked during weeks the employee claims benefits must be reported and will pro-rate the benefit amount, unless the wages are a supplemental benefit.
  • Defines “supplemental benefits” as any payments made by an employer to an employee as salary continuation and paid time off that is in addition to an employee’s paid family and medical leave benefit amount.

Additional changes, which take effect 90 days after the governor’s signature, clarify:

  • Conditional waivers from the WPFML program expire immediately if any of the conditions required for granting conditional waiver no longer exist.
  • Employees may meet the waiting period requirement while simultaneously receiving paid time off for any part of the waiting period.
  • Injured workers receiving permanent total disability or temporary total disability workers’ compensation payments during any week are disqualified from receiving any family or medical leave benefits during that week.
  • When the employer has an approved voluntary plan for either medical leave or family leave, but not both, the employer is still obligated to pay the Employment Security Department (ESD) any premiums owed to the state plan for the portions not covered by the employer’s voluntary plan. Also, when an employer terminates an approved voluntary plan, the employer must pay ESD everything it owes.
  • The employer pays any damages owed directly to the employee.

Tips For Employers: Remember to update your policy to reflect the change to the definition of qualifying family member. For more information see Vigilant’s Model Policy, Washington Paid Family and Medical Leave Policy or reach out to your Vigilant Law Group employment attorney if you have any questions.

This website presents general information in nontechnical language. This information is not legal advice. Before applying this information to a specific management decision, consult legal counsel.