The Paid Family and Medical Leave (PFML) program was enacted to provide partial wage replacement to employees on leave for specified family and medical reasons. It is funded through premiums paid by employers and employees. The Employment Security Department administers the program.
Eligibility. Employees are eligible for benefits under the PFML program after working at least 820 hours in a qualifying period. A qualifying period is the first four of the last five full calendar quarters, or the last four full calendar quarters.
Small Business Grants. Employers with 150 or fewer employees may be eligible for limited grants for wage-related costs or the costs of hiring a temporary worker due to an employee's leave. The amount of each grant varies based on the reasoning and is subject to certain conditions. These grants are funded from the Family and Medical Leave Insurance Account.
Eligibility. Limited alternate eligibility is provided for claims between January 1, 2021, and June 30, 2022, for employees not meeting the existing hours worked threshold for 2020, or the first calendar quarter of 2021, through:
The alternate eligibility does not apply to employees who do not meet the existing hours worked threshold because of an employment separation due to misconduct or voluntary separations unrelated to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Small Business Grants. Small business grants for employee leaves taken under the alternate eligibility may not be funded from the Family and Medical Leave Insurance Account.
PRO: This bill is narrowly designed to address the impact of COVID-19 on workers' ability to meet the hours worked requirement. Washington has one of the highest hours worked requirements in the country and COVID-19 creates additional issues. This is a gender equity bill since the bulk of workers who lost their jobs during the pandemic are women. It should be passed as soon as possible. It is estimated this bill will assist up to 42,000 families in Washington. These are workers who paid into the program but cannot access benefits. This bill will not affect the family and medical leave insurance account.
OTHER: PFML is still a fragile program, which has only been in effect for a little over a year. This bill will affect the efficiency of the family and medical leave insurance account. Small business grants were implemented a year late and wait times at ESD are extensive.