HR Operations

Paid Family and Medical Leave (PFML)

The Paid Family and Medical Leave program is a mandatory statewide insurance program that provides paid family and medical leave to eligible employees. The program is administered by the Employment Security Department (ESD). Washington’s Paid Family and Medical Leave program does not replace the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). In many cases, PFML and FMLA will run at the same time.

Eligible employees & qualifying events

Employees can receive PFML benefits if they meet eligibility criteria and experience a qualifying event.

Eligible employees:

  • Have worked at least eight hundred twenty (820) hours in the state of Washington during the “qualifying period”
    • The “qualifying period” is the first four of the last five completed calendar quarters or
    • the last four completed calendar quarters immediately preceding the application for leave.

All UW employees whose work is performed in the state of Washington participate in the program.

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Qualifying events

Family leave
  • Leave to bond with the employee’s child during the first twelve months after the child’s birth, or the first twelve months after the placement of a child under the age of eighteen with the employee;
  • Leave to participate in providing care, including physical or psychological care, for a family member due to the family member’s serious health condition; or
  • Leave because of 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 health care provider for:
    • An illness or injury that incapacitated you for three or more consecutive days.
    • 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.”

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Family member definitions

“Family member” means a child, grandchild, grandparent, parent, sibling, or spouse of an employee.

“Child” includes a biological, adopted, or foster child, a stepchild, or a child to whom the employee stands in loco parentis, is a legal guardian, or is a de facto parent, regardless of age or dependency status.

“Grandchild” means a child of the employee’s child.

“Grandparent” means a parent of the employee’s parent.

“Parent” means the biological, adoptive, de facto, or foster parent, stepparent, or legal guardian of an employee or the employee’s spouse, or an individual who stood in loco parentis to an employee when the employee was a child.

“Spouse” means a husband, wife, or state registered domestic partner.

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Employee benefits

Beginning January 1, 2020, family and medical leave is available and benefits are payable to qualified employees. 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.

Minimum Claim Duration

The minimum claim duration payment is for eight (8) consecutive hours of leave.

Maximum Claim Duration

Qualified Washington 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 two (2) weeks of leave is available as a result of pregnancy complications.

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Notice – 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. Staff employees should follow the procedures for requesting a leave of absence.

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Filing a Claim

Beginning January 1, 2020, individuals will be able to apply for paid leave benefits online through ESD’s Paid Family & Medical Leave webpage. Filing a claim for paid leave benefits 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.

The Employment Security Department is still developing their claim process, but generally individuals will create an online account with ESD, provide contact information, leave type requested, dates of the leave, date notice was provided to the University, and documentation supporting the leave of absence. ESD will use hours and wage information they receive quarterly from all employers in Washington to determine eligibility.

After filing a claim, ESD will contact the University to confirm details of the employee’s claim. Once ESD approves the claim, individuals will submit weekly claims to ESD for the paid 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 in 2019 can receive paid benefits beginning Jan. 1, 2020, for up to 12 months following the birth or placement.

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Return from Leave Rights

Employees who have been employed by the University for twelve months or more; and have worked for the University for at least 1,250 hours during the twelve months immediately preceding the date on which leave commenced, 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.

As a condition of restoration for an employee who has taken medical leave, the University may require an employee to provide certification from the employee’s health care provider that the employee is able to resume work.

The University may require an employee on leave to periodically report on their status and intention to return to work.

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Open questions

UW continues to work with ESD to determine how ESD’s PFML program intersects with UW’s existing paid time off and leave of absence policies. Outstanding issues:

  • Impact to disability and parental leaves of absence for staff, including the amount of sick time available for use during a parental leave of absence.
  • What guidance and/or rule changes the Office of Financial Management (OFM) State Human Resources will be providing for classified staff.
  • Whether paid time off will be considered a supplemental benefit for the purpose of ESD’s calculation of the paid benefit.
  • Whether the UW and other state agencies are considered a single employer for the purpose of determining both eligibility and job protection hours worked.
  • What changes will be needed in Workday to request and track the leave of absence, or designate time offs as PFML covered.

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Program Funding

Funding for the program comes from premiums paid by both the employee and the UW. The initial premium rate is set at 0.4 percent of wages up to the social security cap beginning on January 1, 2019 for most employees, with incremental increases expected for calendar year 2022 and thereafter.

Employee’s Premium Contribution

The employee’s portion of the 0.4% premium is:

  • 100% of the premiums due for family leave portion
  • 45% of the premiums due for the medical leave portion

This is an approximate employee responsibility of 63% of the total 0.4% premium.

Employer’s Premium Contribution

The UW is responsible for 55% of the premiums due for the medical leave portion, resulting in a total Employer responsibility of 37% of the total 0.4% premiums for all employees contributing to this benefit.

Deduction Timing

Payroll deductions and employer contributions began on January 1, 2019 for all employees except those covered by the following collective bargaining agreements (CBAs) that expired June 30, 2019:

  • Service Employees International Union 925
  • Washington Federation of State Employees
  • Washington Federation of State Employees Police Management
  • Teamsters 117
  • Inlandboatmen’s Union
  • Service Employees International Union 1199NW Research/Hall Health
  • Teamsters 117 Print Craft
  • Service Employees International Union 1199NW
  • Washington State Nurses Association
  • UW Housestaff Association

Deductions for employees in these groups began pay period ending June 30, 2019.

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Additional information

Visit the Employment Security Department’s Paid Family & Medical Leave webpage:

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University contacts

Questions about leave of absence may be directed to the following offices:

Campus HR Operations & Services – Leave Management
Box 354963
4300 Roosevelt Way NE
Seattle, WA 98195-4963
206-685-0636 (Fax)

UW Medicine Human Resources – Employee Relations, Harborview Medical Center
Box 359715
401 Broadway, Suite 2100
Seattle, WA 98195-9715
206-744-9955 (Fax)

UW Medicine Human Resources – Employee Relations, UW Medical Center
Box 356054
1959 NE Pacific Street
Seattle, WA 98195-6054
206-598-4610 (Fax)



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