Washington Paid Family and Medical Leave

What Is Paid Family and Medical Leave?

WA Paid Family and Medical Leave is a new benefit administered by the Employment Security Department. It provides paid time off to care for yourself or a family member when life’s big events happen, such as:

Bonding with a newborn, adopted or foster child

Recovering from a surgery, serious illness or injury

Supporting a family member with a serious medical condition

Experiencing certain events connected to a family member’s active duty military service

While you’re out, you will receive payments from the ESD based on a percentage of your typical weekly earnings. If you are on approved disability—i.e., if you are receiving Short Term Disability or Salary Continuation pay through REI Payroll—your disability pay will be automatically offset based on the estimated payment you are expected to receive through the state. Once your claim is approved by the ESD, you will need to submit weekly claims in order to receive the remaining payment. 

You are eligible for Washington Paid Family and Medical Leave if:

  1. You have worked 820 hours (about 16 weeks) in Washington during the qualifying period, which is about the last year.
  2. You have a qualified event. Qualified events include:
    • A serious health condition that prevents you from working.
    • A new baby or child joining your family.
    • A family member’s serious illness or medical event.

Some examples are:

  • You give birth to a baby or adopt or foster a child.
  • You are recovering from a major surgery, serious illness or injury.
  • You are receiving treatment for a chronic health condition, such as diabetes or epilepsy.
  • You are receiving inpatient treatment for substance abuse or for mental health.
  • You are taking care of a family member with a serious health condition.
  • Your family member is on active duty military service and you take time to be with them during R&R.

Most eligible employees can take up to 12 weeks of paid leave a year. If you give birth to a baby, you qualify for up to 16 weeks of paid leave. In some circumstances, you may qualify for up to 18 weeks.

You don’t have to take your leave all at once. For example, you may take one day off a week to support a family member undergoing chemotherapy treatment.

Please keep in mind that Washington Paid Family and Medical Leave runs concurrent with Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and REI Medical Leaves.

Like FMLA, employees who are covered by the state program are entitled to job reinstatement if they:

  • Have worked for REI for 12 months or longer, and
  • Have worked at least 1,250 hours for REI in the past 12 months.

Beginning January 1, 2020, employees working in Washington will need to initiate a leave of absence with the Employment Security Department (ESD) and with Aetna.

  1. First, initiate your leave of absence with the ESD.
    • You will need to create an account online via paidleave.wa.gov or by mail. For additional details on applying for leave and creating your account with the ESD visit paidleave.wa.gov/2019 paidleave.wa.gov/2019 or watch this video.
    • Creating your account will take approximately 30 minutes, and you will need to provide proof of ID documents to submit with your application (driver’s license, passport, or utility bills)
  2. Next, contact the REI Health Guide at 1-800-451-2967 (select option 3) or go to mylincolnportal.com to initiate your leave of absence.
    • If you are a new user, go to the “First-time users” section to register and create your account.
  1. Create an account: Go to paidleave.wa.gov. From there you will be directed to the state’s log-in service SecureAccess Washington (secureaccess.wa.gov).
  2. Complete the application: Provide basic information and verify your employment history and what type of leave you’re taking.
  3. Upload document: This includes proof of ID documents and the certification of a serious health condition form.
    • Please note that the certification is required to take medical leave for your own serious health condition or family leave to care for a family member with a serious health condition. You do not need certification for family leave to bond with a new child, but if you plan to first use medical leave to recover from giving birth you will need to get certified. You do not need to provide documentation to prove birth, adoption or placement to be approved for bonding leave.
  4. Receive your determination: Once your application is submitted and you have provided the necessary documents, the ESD will review your application and mail you a determination letter at the mailing address you provided.
    • If approved, this letter will provide a maximum weekly benefit amount you may receive and will confirm the dates of your approved leave.

Once your application is approved, there is a “waiting week.” This is required by law for all types of leave except parental bonding. During this time you may apply paid time off, including vacation and sick time.

Your “waiting week” is the first week you are eligible to file a weekly claim. Weekly claims are how you receive pay. After you recieve your determination letter in the mail and have been approved, you can begin filing weekly claims. Claims can also be filed for weeks you were on leave before your application was approved.

You can file these online or by calling each week:

  • Each week, the ESD will ask you if anything has changed regarding the length of leave or your qualified event, and if you worked during the past week.
  • If you apply online, you can choose to be paid via direct deposit or a prepaid debit card. If you applied on paper, you can only receive a prepaid debit card at this time.

While you are out, you will receive payments from the state based on a percentage of your typical weekly earnings up to $1,327 a week. You will receive pay from the state first and, if applicable, the remaining payment will be calculated by Lincoln and paid via REI payroll.

When you file your claim with the Employment Security Department (ESD), you can choose to receive payment either via direct deposit or through a prepaid debit card. You will need to file a weekly claim to receive your pay. (Once your application has been approved, you can begin filing weekly claims, including claims for the weeks you were on leave after you submitted your application but before it was approved.) Payment is always retroactive to the leave start date, not the date the leave was approved. You can file weekly claims online or by phone. For more information on how to file a weekly claim, please review this short tutorial from the ESD.

Paid Family and Medical Leave is a statewide program, whereas FMLA is a federal program. Paid Family and Medical Leave runs concurrent with FMLA—it does not replace it.

If you give birth to a baby, you qualify for up to 16 weeks of leave.

You may also be eligible for up to 16 weeks of leave if you have a personal medical event and a family caregiving event that happen in the same year—like recovering from a surgery and caring for an ill family member.

In cases related to complications resulting from pregnancy, you may be able to take up to 18 weeks of leave.

“Supplemental benefits” are paid leave benefits in addition to the state plan. Under REI’s leave program, the following are considered supplemental benefits:

  • REI Paid Parental Leave: Six weeks of pay applied during a Bonding Leave (applies to benefit-eligible employees)
  • Salary continuation: Paid if approved for a Care of Family Member Leave (applies to HQ, exempt, retail and OPO management)
  • Vacation time
  • Accrued sick time

You would still qualify for the state program, but you would receive additional benefits through REI. Employees can choose to use supplemental benefits (as described above) to supplement or “top up” the money they receive as partial wage replacement from the Employment Security Department while on a WA Paid Family and Medical Leave.