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Paid Family Medical Leave Act rulemaking solicits feedback from small businesses

Monday, the Washington Employment Security Department (EDS) sent out a survey to state small businesses to gather feedback regarding implementation of reporting and remittance requirements of the Paid Family and Medical Leave Act (PFML). The act was passed by the legislature and signed into law in June 2017. Since then, ESD has convened an advisory committee to address implementation of the legislation and held several listening sessions to gather public input.

The PFML is among the most generous act of its kind in the nation and makes Washington one of just five states to guarantee some amount of ongoing wages when worker take extended leave to care for family members or experiences a qualifying medical event. The law generally allow up to 12 weeks of paid leave for an employee to take care of themselves or their family per year. Under the law, both employers and employees pay premiums into the system and weekly benefits are calculated based on a percentage of the employee’s wages but are capped at $1,000 a week. Workers who earn less than the state average would get 90 percent of their income and all workers must work at least 820 hours before qualifying for the benefit. The benefits are set to begin being paid January 1, 2020.

The first phase of rulemaking for the program ended in May 2018 and covered Collective bargaining agreements, premium liability, and voluntary plans. Details about phase one new rules and their implementation plan can be found here.

The Department is currently engaged in Phase Two of its rulemaking which is focused on employer responsibilities, penalties, and small business assistance. Though small businesses are exempt from paying the employer portion of the premiums, they do have to collect and remit the employee portion, as well as perform additional reporting duties. The survey aims to collect feedback as to how these additional administrative requirements will impact Washington small businesses.

To gather further feedback the EDS has scheduled several additional listening sessions though the end of 2018 with further phases of implementation rulemaking stretching  into 2019. It is also seeking public participating in rulemaking through its public engagement tool which can be found here. More information on implementation, reporting, and remitting requirements for employers can be found on the EDS’s Employer page and its Small Business page.