The New Washington Paid Family and Medical Leave Goes Into Effect January 1…

The New Washington Paid Family and Medical Leave Goes Into Effect January 1…

by Sara Bennett | October 23, 2019

0 Author-Jeanne, Blog, INFO AND RESOURCES FOR EMPLOYERS main whats happening

 

….and make no mistake – you WILL BE IMPACTED!

The Washington Paid Family and Medical Leave act starts delivering 12 weeks of paid time off benefits to all Washington employees effective January 1,2020.

Qualifying events for benefit eligibility are simple….

  • The birth or adoption of a child – with eligibility for the leave benefit applied to both Mom and Dad
  • The serious illness or injury of an employee or an employee’s family member
  • Certain military related events requiring an extended absence

Because these are absences paid (or at least partially paid) by the State of Washington, these are opportunities to receive a benefit they can’t afford to pass up.  We’re anticipating that all employers will be fielding more requests for paid time off than you’ve had in the past – potentially creating some new challenges for your well-oiled team,  requiring more up front planning.  

While there are still some details to iron out, we are encouraging our clients to get prepared now to staff their teams for extended periods of team member absences. 

Here’s some of the detail….

Paid absences covered under this act can be taken for up to 12 months from the date of the qualifying event.  Absent employees will receive some predetermined rate of pay up to a  total of 12 weeks (60 days) from the date of the qualifying event.

Access to benefits will be administered by Washington State Employment Security.  It will  look and feel much like the current unemployment benefits WSES already administers.  The employee is required to apply, WSES determines eligibility, and once approved, the benefit payments begin.   Typical waiting periods are likely to be 7 days from point of application to the first benefit payment.

The benefit payment is calculated as a percentage of the employee’s rate of pay at the point of the qualifying event.  The exact amount of the benefit payment can range from $100 to $1000/week will be  determined by payroll information Washington employers submit to WSES quarterly.

Eligibility standards are not high.  The employee has to have worked for you or another employer for a total of 820 hours during the previous 12 months -a provision in the law designed to provide coverage for both part and full time employees.  If the leave requested can be anticipated, the employee is required to give their employers a 30 day notice.

The reality is that most employers, primarily small to medium sized employers,  are not going to be able to get thru 12 weeks of absence without supplementary staffing. Temporary staffing companies are expecting to be very busy next year just keeping their client’s teams fully staffed.    

Some GOOD NEWS for SMALLER EMPLOYERS  (less than 50 employees)  the new law provides you with the opportunity to apply for GRANTS that pay up to $3000 to pay for any temporary employee you have to hire to do the work of the “on leave” employee.  Qualified employers can use these GRANTS up to 10 times a year. 

PACE, of course, is standing by to provide high impact temporary employees for all forms of “paid and unpaid leave”.  We’ll make sure they have the skills and work experiences you need to fill in the gaps created by the absence of a key employee.   We’ll make sure your “grant monies” are well spent.

If you’re one of our readers who is curious about who ultimately pays for these mandatory paid time off benefits, here’s some quick bullet points for you on who pays for what…

  • Washington employers have been withholding .4% of payroll dollars to fund this benefit up to an taxable wage base of $132,900 per employee since January, 2019. Approximately 1/3 of the premium is paid by the employer, 2/3 of the premium is paid by the employee via payroll deduction.
  • If you are a small employer, with less than 50 employees, you do not need to pay the employer’s portion of this plan. If you choose not to pay the employer’s portion you would not be eligible to participate in the temporary employee reimbursement program described above.

To get more detail here’s the link  to the WSES web site…

https://www.lni.wa.gov/WorkplaceRights/LeaveBenefits/FamilyCare/ESD/default.asp

Feeling a little nervous about what might lie ahead – how you are going to deal with an increased number of anticipated and unanticipated absences? 

Not to worry….call our Partner Services and Solutions team at 425-637-3312 and we’ll get ready to staff your team with qualified temporary employees as soon as you get notice of a pending absence.   Even if you don’t expect an absence until later in 2020, start planning today.  We’re glad to help and make sure when the time comes we have the employees you need scheduled to fill in the gaps.

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PACE Staffing Network is one of the Puget Sound’s premier staffing /recruiting agencies and has been helping Northwest employers find and hire employees based on the “right fit” for over 40 years.

A  3 time winner of the coveted “Best in Staffing” designation , PACE is ranked in the top 2% of staffing agencies nationwide based on annual surveys of customer satisfaction.

PACE services include temporary and contract staffing, temp to hire auditions, direct hire professional recruiting services, Employer of Record (payroll) services, and a large menu of candidate assessment services our clients can purchase a la carte.

To learn more about how partnering with PACE will make a difference to how you find and hire employees,  contact us at 425-637-3312 or e mail our Partner Solutions  team  at partnerservices@pacestaffing.com.


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