Paid Family and Medical Leave
The Paid Family and Medical Leave program (PFML) is a mandatory statewide insurance program that provides paid family and medical leave to eligible employees. PFML will be administered by the Employment Security Department (ESD). PFML does not replace the Federal Family and Medical Leave Act. In most cases PFML and FMLA will run at the same time.
Applying for PFML benefits is a separate process from applying for leave of absence from Western. Employees must request a leave of absence as outlined the Medical Leave site, which includes notifying your supervisor/HR and submitting appropriate medical documentation.
The program is funded by premiums paid by both employees and Western.
Premium collection started on Jan. 1, 2019 for those not covered by a collective bargaining agreement (CBA). Premium collection for Classified employees started July 2019. Faculty will be eligible for PFML starting on September 16, 2020.
The premium is 0.4 percent of wages. Employees will responsible for contributing 63 percent of the total premium, or $2.44 per week for an employee making $50,000 annually. Western is responsible for paying the other 37 percent.
Western will calculate and withhold premiums from your paycheck and send both your share and theirs to ESD on a quarterly basis.
Employees who have worked 820 hours in the qualifying period (first of the four of the last five completed calendar quarters or last four completed quarters) will be able to apply to take paid medical leave or paid family leave. The 820 hours are cumulative, regardless of the number of employers or jobs someone has during a year. All paid work over the course of the year counts toward the 820 hours, including part-time, seasonal and temporary work.
While on leave, you are entitled to partial wage replacement. That means you will receive a portion of your average weekly pay. The benefit is generally up to 90 percent of your weekly wage, with a minimum of $100 per week and a maximum of $1,206 per week. You will be paid by the Employment Security Department rather than Western. Get an estimate of your weekly benefit using ESD’s calculator.
Qualifying Events and Leave Benefits
Leave can be taken for family or medical leave events. If you qualify, this program will allow you to take up to 12 weeks.
- Welcome a child into your family (through birth, adoption or foster placement
- Need to care for a seriously ill or injured relative
- Need time to prepare for a family member’s pre- and post-deployment activities, as well as time for childcare issues related to a family member’s military deployment. See specifics on military-connected paid leave.
- Experience a serious illness or injury
If you face multiple events in a year, you might be eligible to receive up to 16 weeks, and up to 18 weeks if you experience a serious health condition during pregnancy that results in incapacity.
Leave can be taken intermittently with the minimum claim duration being eight consecutive hours of leave.
Family members include spouse, children (including step and foster), parents (including in-law and loco parentis), siblings, grandchildren, and grandparents.
For all leaves except birth or placement of child, there is a waiting period of up to 7 days to receive PFML benefits.
Employees who return from leave under this law will be restored to a same or equivalent if they have worked for Western for at least 12 months, and have worked 1,250 hours in the 12 months before taking leave (about 24 hours per week, on average).
You can keep your health insurance while on leave. If you contribute to the cost of your health insurance, you must continue to pay your portion of the premium cost while on leave.
Western is prohibited from discriminating or retaliating against you for requesting or taking paid leave.
If you know you will be taking paid leave well before it happens (for example, if you are expecting a baby or your family member has a planned surgery coming up), you’ll need to give the University written notice at least 30 days in advance.
If you take paid leave unexpectedly (for example, after a serious injury), written notice to the University is still required. Provide notice as soon as you are able, or ask someone else, like a family member or a neighbor, to provide notice for you.
In your written notice, let the University know you need to take paid family or medical leave and about how long you expect you’ll be out. Emails, text messages and handwritten notes are acceptable forms of written notice.
How to Apply
To apply for benefits, go to the Paid Family and Medical Leave website. After you apply for PFML, you will receive notifications from ESD, not Western. Once you are approved for PFML, weekly claims are filed with ESD.
If you are approved for PFML, you are still responsible for making sure your Timesheet is completed during your leave. A Leave Request Form is also required.
A supplemental benefit is a payment from an employer to an employee to make up the difference between their regular wage and the benefit paid by ESD. These payments are in addition to any paid family or medical leave benefits you are receiving.
Starting on August 1st, employees that are receiving PFML can use “supplemental benefits” to make themselves whole.
Supplemental benefits include:
- compensatory time
- sick leave,
- vacation leave,
- personal holiday,
- personal leave day,
- Washington state paid sick leave,
- winter break day (during winter break)
Using your accrued leave as a supplemental benefit will draw down your leave balances.
If you want to use supplemental benefits, make sure to:
- Record it on the Leave Request Form as “Paid Family & Medical Leave”; and
- Record it on your timesheet; and
- Do not report the use of supplemental benefits on your weekly claim for PFML, otherwise, it will reduce your PFML benefit amount.
Leave Request Form example:
If you do not want to use supplemental benefits, then record “Leave, No pay” on your timesheet and Leave Request Form.
Leave Request Form example: