The State of Washington has enacted legislation (House Bill 1073) that expands employee eligibility for the state's paid family and medical leave program. House Bill 1073 is effective immediately.
Washington state provides partial wage replacement for employees to take leave to, among other reasons, care for their own or a family member's serious health condition. To be eligible, the employee must have worked at least 820 hours in Washington over the past year. The program is funded by premiums paid by employees and employers.
House Bill 1073:
House Bill 1073 is intended to expand coverage of the paid family and medical leave program to employees who may otherwise be ineligible due to COVID-19 circumstances.
Under House Bill 1073, an employee who meets all other eligibility requirements for leave but does not meet the 820 hours worked threshold may be eligible for a pandemic leave assistance employee grant.
To be eligible, the effective start date of the claim must be between January 1, 2021 through March 31, 2022, and the employee must have worked:
- 820 hours in Washington during the first through fourth calendar quarters of 2019; or
- During the second through fourth calendar quarters of 2019 and the first calendar quarter of 2020.
Employees are ineligible if the reason that they did not meet the 820-hour threshold is because of misconduct or a voluntary separation unrelated to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Employees may file a claim for a pandemic leave assistance employee grant beginning August 1, 2021.
Employers with 150 or fewer employees may apply for a pandemic leave assistance employer grant to assist with the costs of an employee on leave. These grants are available until funding is exhausted.
- $3,000 if the employer hires a temporary worker to replace an employee on leave who has received or will receive a pandemic leave assistance employee grant; or
- Up to $1,000 to cover wage-related costs due to the employee's leave.
The only circumstances in which an employer may receive a grant under both conditions outlined above is if:
- The employee on leave, who has received or will receive a pandemic leave assistance grant, extended leave beyond initially planned; and
- The employer hired a temporary worker to cover the work. In such cases, the employer may receive a grant of the difference between $3,000 and the amount awarded for wage-related costs.
Employers are limited to one application and must show written documentation demonstrating the need for the grant. An employer who has an approved voluntary plan is not eligible to receive a pandemic leave assistance employer grant.
Washington employers should review their policies, forms, and practices to ensure compliance with House Bills 1073. Please contact your dedicated service professional with any questions.