Wash. to implement best paid family & medical leave in America in 2019

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Washington state will start implementing one of the best paid family and medical leave programs in America on January 1 – with employees eligible to take up to 16 weeks off in 2020.

The new program functions much like insurance and applies to all companies. The premium is equal to 0.4 percent of wages, with both employees and employers each paying their share beginning January 1, 2019. Businesses with fewer than 50 employees don’t have to pay the employer portion of the premium.

For example, employees who have an annual salary of $50,000 will pay a little over $2.44 per week, while their employer will pay just over $1.41 per week. Use this calculator to estimate your premiums.

The benefits will kick in 2020. Workers can start taking up to 16 weeks of paid time off – whether to care for new children, sick relatives, or recover from an illness. Employees will receive weekly pay that equals up to 90 percent of their regular salary, with a minimum of $100 and a maximum of $1,000 per payment.

“Washington’s new Paid Family and Medical Leave program will be one of the strongest programs in the nation once it goes into full effect in 2020,” said Clare DeLong, Communications Manager for the Washington Employment Security Department.

Washington is among four other states – California, Rhode Island, New Jersey, and New York – and the District of Columbia that provide paid family leave for employees to take care of sick or disabled family members or a new child.

“Washington has more weeks of leave than some other states and it is portable between jobs,” DeLong said. “That means if you work multiple jobs, your hours for each of those jobs will count toward your eligibility.”

Employees must work up to 820 hours in the qualifying period to be eligible, which is the first of four of the last five completed calendar quarters starting from the day you plan on taking the leave.

“Eligible employees can take up to 12 weeks of paid leave for a medical or a family reason, 16 weeks if events covered under both family and medical leave occur in the same qualifying period, and up to 18 weeks if there is a serious health condition in pregnancy that results in incapacity,” DeLong said.

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