Washington’s new paid-leave payroll tax starts Jan. 1

Washington’s new paid-leave payroll tax starts Jan. 1
Max Pepper/CNNMoney

If you work in Washington state, you’ll start seeing more money come out of your paychecks in a few weeks.

It’s part of Washington’s Paid Family and Medical Leave (PFML) program passed by the state legislature and signed into law in 2017.

The state will begin collecting premiums through payroll deductions starting January 1, 2019. However, you won’t be able to use any leave until 2020.

The law offers partially paid leave to care for yourself or a family member in times of serious illness or injury, to bond with a new child joining your home through birth, adoption or foster placement, and for certain military-connected events if you have a family member in active duty service.

Workers will pay for this program through mandatory payroll deductions. In 2019, 0.4 percent of gross pay will be the premium for each pay period.

You won’t pay the entire premium. Generally, the worker pays 63 percent of the premium and the employer pays 37 percent.

In 2019, you will notice a new deduction on your first check. For example, an employee whose pre-tax wages are $1,000 per check would have a premium of $4. Of that, the employee would pay about $2.52 and the employer would pay around $1.48 in premiums.

Workers don’t need to take any action to pay — the employer is responsible for this deduction.

In 2020, you will be able to apply for leave if you experience a qualifying event and have worked 820 hours — about 16 hours a week on average — in the year leading up to your date of leave.

This isn’t like paid sick leave; claims will be filed with the Employment Security Department (ESD) and payment will come from ESD.

Qualifying workers will get:

Up to 12 weeks for a serious health condition or for family care
Up to 16 weeks for combined family and medical leave
Up to 18 weeks if the leave includes certain pregnancy complications

Small businesses with fewer than 50 employees don’t have to pay the employer portion but they must collect the worker portion.

Washington will be the fifth state in the nation to offer paid family and medical leave benefits.

LEARN MORE: paidleave.wa.gov

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