June 2022: Washington State Legislature Amends State’s Paid Family and Medical Leave Act

08 Jun


Update Applicable to:
All employers in the state of Washington.

What happened?
On March 30, 2022, Governor Inslee signed Senate Bill 5649 (SB 5649) into law, which will amend the state’s Paid Family and Medical Leave Act (PFMLA) to include several additions to the law.

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What are the details?
On June 9, 2022, several changes to the state’s PFMLA will go into effect. Here is a list of the most significant changes to the law:

The first six weeks of post-natal leave for an incapacitated employee is presumptively medical leave.
During the six-week post-natal period, any paid family and medical leave (PFML) used by an employee who is eligible for benefits based on incapacity due to pregnancy or for prenatal care will count as paid medical leave by default, unless the employee chooses to use paid family leave during that period.  Such an employee does not need to obtain certification of a serious health condition.  This new presumption is still subject to the maximum and minimum weekly benefits, duration, and other conditions and limitations under the law.

More information on PFML can be read here.

Bereavement Leave
This amendment permits the use of paid family leave for bereavement purposes during the seven calendar days after the death of a qualifying family member.  This leave is permitted for the death of a family member for whom the employee:

  1. would have qualified for medical leave for the birth of their child, or
  2. would have qualified for family leave to bond with their child following their birth or placement.

Publication of Employers with Voluntary Plans 
The Washington Employment Security Department (ESD), which administers this state’s leave program, must now publish on ESD’s website a current list of all employers that run their own “voluntary plan” that was approved by ESD.

Ending CBA Exception
Previously, this law did not apply to an employee who was subject to a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) that was in existence on October 19, 2017, until the CBA was reopened, was renegotiated, or expired.  This exception now expires on December 31, 2023.

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For more information, please see the links below:

Senate Bill 5649 (SB 5649)

Paid Family and Medical Leave (PFML)

Article 1Article 2Article 3

What do employers need to do?
Employers should review the links provided above and make changes to their family and medical leave policies so that they reflect the amended law.

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