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September 11, 2018

Detailing the differences: Paid Sick Leave and Paid Family and Medical Leave

By: Bobbi Cussins   Comments: 0

The voter-approved Paid Sick Leave program, run by the state Department of Labor and Industries (L&I) that took effect in January, is not the same as the new law passed in 2017 that created a statewide Paid Family and Medical Leave program, which is administered by the state Employment Security Department (ESD). That was the message L&I sent in its email newsletter last week.

Let's take a minute to go over the important differences between these two separate programs.

Paid Sick Leave

Voters created the Paid Sick Leave mandate when Initiative 1433 was passed in 2016. Administered by L&I, the program applies to all employers. Under the law, all eligible employees must accrue sick leave at 1 hour per every 40 hours worked and can be taken:

  • To care for their health needs or the health needs of their family members;
  • When the employees' workplace or their child's school or place of care has been closed by a public official for any health-related reason;
  • For absences that qualify for leave under the state's Domestic Violence Leave Act; and,
  • Employers may allow employees to use paid sick leave for additional purposes.

L&I has a helpful one-page document with FAQ’s on the Paid Sick Leave requirements.

Paid Family and Medical Leave

The Paid Family and Medical Leave (PFML) program was created by the Legislature in 2017 and will be administered by ESD. PFML is an insurance program which will be funded by premiums paid by both employees and many employers. Premium payments begin on Jan. 1, 2019, and benefits can be taken starting Jan. 1, 2020. Parts of the program, like applying to the agency to put in place a voluntary plan, are already underway.

Employees are eligible to use PFML beginning in January 2020 if they:

  • Welcome a new child into their family;
  • Are struck by a serious illness or injury; and,
  • Need to take care of an ill or ailing relative and for certain military connected events.

Employers with fewer than 50 employees do not have to pay the employer portion of the PFML insurance premium, however they are required to report employee wages and hours and remit the employee portion of PFML premiums to ESD.

More details on the PFML program are available on ESD’s website. AWB also created a short explainer video on the PFML program.

ESD created a one-page document that explains the difference between I-1433’s Paid Sick Leave law and the new PFML program.

For more information on these laws and other workplace issues, contact AWB Government Affairs Director Bob Battles at 360.943.1600.