The Paid Family and Medical Leave program is a mandatory statewide insurance program, administered by the Employment Security Department (ESD), which provides paid family and medical leave to eligible employees.

Washington’s Paid Family and Medical Leave program does not replace the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), and in many cases, PFML and FMLA will run concurrently.

Eligibility

Employees can receive PFML benefits if they meet eligibility criteria and experience a qualifying event. Eligible employees have worked at least 820 hours in Washington State during either

  • The first 4 of the last 5 calendar quarters; or
  • The last 4 calendar quarters immediately before the application for leave.

Qualifying Events

Family Leave
  • Leave to bond with the employee’s child during the first 12 months after the child’s birth, or the first 12 months after the placement of a child under the age of 18 with the employee
  • Leave to participate in providing care for a family member due to the family member’s serious health condition
  • Leave because of a qualifying military exigency as permitted under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act
Medical Leave

Medical leave is any leave taken by an employee from work due to the employee’s own serious health condition. Serious health condition means an illness, injury, impairment, or physical or mental condition that involves inpatient care in a hospital, hospice, or residential medical care facility, including any period of incapacity; or continuing treatment by a healthcare provider for:

  • An illness or injury that incapacitated you for 3 or more consecutive days0
  • A chronic serious health condition (like diabetes or epilepsy)
  • Incapacity during pregnancy or for prenatal care
  • Treatment for substance abuse
  • Any period of absence from work to receive treatments and recover, like for radiation, chemotherapy or dialysis.

The healthcare provider will determine whether the illness or injury meets the definition of a “serious health condition.”

Employee benefits

The weekly PFML benefit amount is calculated by ESD and will depend on how much the employee earns in a typical week. The maximum weekly benefit is $1,000. The minimum claim duration payment is for 8 consecutive hours of leave.
Qualified Washington State workers are eligible for:

  • Up to 12 weeks of paid family or medical leave.
  • Up to 16 weeks of leave when family and medical leave are used in combination (e.g., birth mother pregnancy and parental leave).
  • An additional 2 weeks of leave is available as a result of pregnancy complications.

Requesting Leave

Employees must provide at least 30-day notice to the University before the leave begins for a foreseeable event such as the birth or placement of a child or a planned surgery. If the need for leave is unforeseeable, like an accident or sudden illness, employees must provide notice as soon as practical.

University employees must be on a leave of absence in order to file a claim for PFML benefits. Academic personnel should follow the procedures for requesting a leave of absence.

Filing a Claim

Filing a paid leave benefits claim with ESD is a separate process from taking a leave of absence from the University. Even when an employee has submitted medical or other documentation to support their need for a leave of absence from the University, ESD will ask for documentation to support their claim for paid benefits. Claims can be filed online through ESD’s Paid Family & Medical Leave web page.

ESD is still developing their claim process; however, the following general steps are anticipated:

Step 1: Individuals will create an online ESD account, provide contact information, leave type requested, dates of the leave, date notice was provided to the University, and documentation supporting the leave of absence.

Note: UW employees should use Employer UBI # 178019988 (or 91-1631806 for HMC employees). When asked if employer offers supplemental benefit, for UW employees, answer yes.

Step 2: ESD will use hours and wage information they receive quarterly from all employers in Washington to determine eligibility. ESD will contact the University to confirm details of the employee’s claim.

Step 3: Once ESD approves the claim, individuals will submit weekly claims to ESD for the paid benefit. In order to best support employees utilizing PFML, the University allows employees the option of using an approved time off while receiving the PFML benefit.

For all leaves except birth or placement of a child, there is a 7-day waiting period before an employee will be eligible for PFML benefits. Individuals have 12 months from the date of a child’s birth or placement (foster or adoption) to take family leave. Eligible employees whose child was born or placed in 2019 can receive paid benefits beginning January 1, 2020 for up to 12 months following the birth or placement.

Important Information about Supplemental Benefits

The University has decided to designate certain paid time off benefits as supplemental benefits. This means employees can choose to use paid time off (as described below) to supplement or “top up” the money they receive as partial wage replacement from the ESD while on a PFML-eligible leave. Employees can receive both paid time off from the UW and the PFML benefit funds from ESD for the same period.

Time Offs Designated as Supplemental Benefits

Faculty

Faculty members may choose to use their approved sick leave allocation for sick time off as a supplemental benefit when used during an approved PFML leave.

Librarians and Educators

Librarians and educators may use the following time off types as a supplemental benefit when used during a PFML absence (Note: Not every time off type may be available to every employee):
Sick time off
Vacation time off
Personal holiday time off
Holiday credit time off
Holiday taken time off
Discretionary time off

Other Academic Personnel

The following time off types can be used as a supplemental benefit when used during a PFML absence, if allowed under a collective bargaining agreement or benefit program (Note: Not every time off type may be available to every employee):
Sick time off
Vacation time off
Personal holiday time off
Holiday credit time off
Holiday taken time off

Return from Leave Rights

Employees who have been employed by the University for 12 months or more; and have worked for the University for at least 1,250 hours during the 12 months immediately before the leave start date, will be restored:

  • to the position of employment held by the employee when the leave commenced; or
  • to an equivalent position with equivalent employment benefits, pay, and other terms and conditions of employment.

The University requires that an employee provide certification from the employee’s healthcare provider that the employee is able to resume work and that an employee on leave periodically report on their status and intention to return to work as a condition of restoration.

Additional Information and Questions

Visit the Employment Security Department’s Paid Family & Medical Leave web page for additional information including definitions. Questions about leave of absence may be directed to the UW Academic HR Team at apleaves@uw.edu or 206-221-UWAP (8927).