State Lawmakers in Washington Change, Expand PFML Laws 

Changes are coming to the Washington paid family and medical leave (WA PFML) program starting in January with the signing into law of Senate Bill No. 5586 and House Bill No. 1570. Here’s what you need to know: 

Limited Disclosure for Employer Benefit Coordination 

Since the WA PFML program started in January 2020, employers have found benefit coordination between WA PFML and existing employer-provided benefits challenging. While employees’ PFML claim records and information are considered private and confidential, without that information, employers struggle to manage supplemental leave benefits and other employer-provided leave policies. 

Beginning January 1, 2024, an interested party will be allowed to access certain information about a claim, including the type of leave being taken, the requested duration of leave (including the approved dates of leave), the actual benefits paid and hours claimed, and whether the employee was approved for benefits and paid benefits for any given week. Interested parties include the current employer of an employee-claimant, a current employer’s third-party administrator, or claimants themselves.  

Employers should note that the new law does not provide them with an unlimited line of sight into their employees’ WA PFML claims. The original version of the bill introduced in January would have also allowed them to request information on the remaining hours of leave available in the employee’s entitlement and the weekly PFML benefit amount, but these were removed from the final version of the bill. Employers are restricted from using this information for anything other than coordinating benefits, or they may be investigated by the state. 

Further rulemaking and operational guidance by the Employment Security Department (ESD) later this year are expected to hammer out the finer details of how this new law will be implemented, such as how employers can request information from the ESD and how the ESD will securely deliver this information timely.  

PFML for Rideshare Drivers

Beginning July 1, 2024, until December 31, 2028, the ESD will develop and administer a pilot program under the existing PFML program for drivers of a transportation network company (TNC) (i.e., rideshare companies such as Uber and Lyft). Drivers will have to file a written notice of election of coverage with the state and opt into both family and medical leave. Drivers are eligible for PFML after working 820 hours in the state spanning at least four calendar quarters following the date of filing the notice. More information should be forthcoming later this year from the ESD on when and how drivers can file a notice of election of coverage. 

The ESD will be keeping an eye on the pilot program and evaluate it in terms of access to the PFML program, as well as impact on the PFML fund, which has been the subject of  ongoing solvency concern. By September 1, 2027, the ESD will submit a report to the legislature with its findings and policy recommendations, including data on the participation rate, total premiums paid, and total benefits paid. The new law also provides rideshare drivers with access to unemployment insurance (UI). 

The new law was drafted in consultation with representatives from labor, business councils, and the TNC industry. Prior to this development, a 2022 law that provided workers’ compensation and paid sick leave to drivers established a task force to study and discuss whether and how drivers should be incorporated into state unemployment, PFML, and long-term care insurance programs. The task force submitted its final report in December, which contained recommendations that were incorporated in this new law. 

FINEOS can help with your state PFML and other leaves

It’s critical to stay informed, especially when paid family and medical leave developments are fluid. FINEOS receives legislative and agency updates multiple times a day and synthesizes the information as it arrives to help our clients maintain compliance. Find out how to simplify the complex with our Integrated Disability and Absence Management (IDAM) solution.  

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