Washington law changes on family leave goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2020

The rules for family leave for workers in Washington state are also changing in 2020.

Starting at the new year, a new insurance program called Paid Family Medical Leave is going into effect, and any person who worked at least 820 hours in the last 12 months and had a qualifying life event can take advantage of the policy. This equals about 20.5 weeks at 40 hours a week.

Workers can receive between 12 and 18 weeks of paid leave depending on circumstances for the following qualifying life events:

  • Birth or adoption of a child
  • Serious illness or health condition, including mental health or addiction illnesses
  • Serious illness or health condition of a qualifying family member
  • Certain military events involving family, including the return of a deployed family member

Insurance premiums that cover the family leave are split between the employer (one-third) and the employees (two-thirds) for most employers, according to Washington Labor and Industries. Many Washington workers have already seen a few dollars come out of each paycheck in 2019 to fund the program. 

Federal employers and employees, federally recognized tribes and the self-employed are exempt from the new state family leave rules. However, the latter two can decide to opt-in.

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