Washington Paid Family and Medical Leave FAQ

October 25, 2018

Effective Jan. 1, 2019, most employers who employ workers in the state of Washington will be required to participate in the Washington Paid Family & Medical Leave Program (“PFML”). Premiums used to fund the program begin Jan. 1, 2019 and benefits become available to eligible employees Jan. 1, 2020.

***The Washington State Employment Security Department (“ESD”) is still in the process of developing the PFML rules. Please note that the following FAQs are subject to change. More information is available on the ESD website here. ***

Which employers are required to participate in PFML?

All Washington employers, including out-of-state employers with Washington employees are required to participate, with limited exceptions. Self-employed individuals, federal employees, federally recognized tribes and temporary workers are not required to participate. Employers who provide paid family and medical leave benefits that meet or exceed the state’s requirements may administer their own plan in lieu of the state’s. This is called a Voluntary Plan and Voluntary Plans must be approved by the ESD. More information about Voluntary Plans is available on the ESD website.

Is the client or Cast & Crew considered the “employer” for purposes of PFML administration and compliance?

Clients are the employers for purposes of complying with PFML. Cast & Crew handles certain administrative aspects of the law for the benefit of clients and may sometimes be referred to as a “payroll employer.” Cast & Crew will handle employee payroll deductions, will calculate and bill the employer portion to clients, and will report and remit information and payment to the ESD as required. Nonetheless, clients are responsible for complying with all other employer duties under the law including funding and notice and posting requirements. Clients can learn more about their duties under the law on the PFML website here.

Which employees are covered under PFML?

To qualify for PFML, employees must work 820 hours in the qualifying period, though the hours do not all need to be performed for the same employer. The qualifying period is the first four of the past five completed calendar quarters. The ESD makes determinations about employee eligibility based on information employers provide to the ESD in mandatory quarterly reports.

How is PFML funded?

In most cases, PFML is co-funded by employer and employee. Clients are responsible for the employer portion of PFML. Premiums begin on Jan. 1, 2019 at a rate of 0.4 percent of an employee’s gross wages, subject to the social security cap. Of that 0.4 percent, the employer is responsible for approximately 37 percent and the employee is responsible for up to the remaining approximately 63 percent. The employer may choose to pay the employee portion on the employee’s behalf.

The premium rate may be adjusted annually after 2020 by the ESD.

Is waiver permitted?

Conditional waiver from the program may be permitted by the ESD in limited situations. Application for waiver may be filed with the state on behalf of any employee who is physically based out of the state, employed in the state on a limited or temporary work schedule and not expected to be employed in the state for 820 hours or more in the qualifying period. The ESD must approve the waiver before it goes into effect.

If an employee with a valid waiver in effect meets the 820 or more hours in the qualifying period, the waiver expires and the employee and employer are responsible for all deductions that would have been made during the time that waiver was in effect.

How do employees apply for waiver?

Waiver forms are available on the Cast & Crew website here. To apply for waiver, employees should:

  1. Fill out and sign a Cast & Crew waiver form. Submit the waiver form to production for production’s signature.
  2. Fill out and sign a state waiver form. The state waiver form selected should be based on the payroll company under which the employee’s payroll was processed. This information is available on employee pay stubs and W-2s.
  3. Submit both signed waivers to the Cast & Crew Employee Help Desk at:
  4. Cast & Crew will submit waiver forms to the ESD for approval.
  5. Cast & Crew will notify employees and production via email of the status of approved and denied waivers.
  6. Employees whose waivers are approved by the ESD will not be required to pay into the PFML program, and neither will their productions unless the employee subsequently meets eligibility criteria.
  7. Please direct any questions about this process to the Cast & Crew Employee Help Desk at:

Who administers the PFML program?

The PFML program is administered by the ESD. The ESD will determine questions of waiver, eligibility, benefit amount and usage, and wage replacement.

Cast & Crew will remit required premiums and report employee wages and hours worked to the ESD on a quarterly basis. The quarterly reports are still in development. There is more information available on the ESD rulemaking page here.

How do employees apply for and receive benefits under PFML?

Employees will file claims for leave directly with the ESD, and the ESD will administer all payments directly to employees while on leave. Leave benefits do not become available to employees until Jan. 1, 2020.

Most workers will be entitled to 12 weeks of paid leave, though 18 weeks may be allowed in limited circumstances. Employees on leave will receive partial wage replacement. The amount of wage replacement available is based on the employee’s average weekly wage.

The benefit rules are still in development. There is more information available on the ESD rulemaking website here.

What are permissible reasons for leave under PFML?

Employees who meet eligibility may take leave under PFML for certain family or medical qualifying events. Qualifying events for family leave include care and bonding after a baby’s birth or the replacement of a child younger than 18; caring for a family member experiencing an illness or medical event; or certain military-connected events. Qualifying events for medical leave include carrying for oneself in relation to an illness or medical event.

Does PFML cover union employees working under a collective-bargaining agreement?

Employers and employees subject to collective bargaining agreements (“CBA”s) that were in existence on Oct. 19, 2017 are not subject to the rights or responsibilities of paid family and medical leave until the agreement is reopened, renegotiated or expires.

For a printable summary of this information, please click here.

If you have any questions, please email Compliance@castandcrew.com.

 

The proceeding information is provided for informational purposes only, should not be construed as or relied upon as legal advice and is subject to change without notice. If you have questions concerning particular situations, specific payroll administration or labor relations issues, please contact your counsel.

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