PFML eligibility and benefits
Table of Contents
Last updated: October 31, 2023
This page applies to all staff, academic personnel, and student employees.
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.
Employees can receive PFML benefits if they meet eligibility criteria and experience a qualifying event. All UW employees whose work is performed in the state of Washington may participate in the program.
Eligible employees have been employed for 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
- 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.
- Leave of up to 7 calendar days following the death of a child when an individual expected to use leave for the child’s birth or to bond with their child after birth or placement.
- 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.
- Continuing treatment by a health care provider for:
The health care provider will determine whether the illness or injury meets the definition of a “serious health condition.”
Family member definitions
“Family member” means a child, grandchild, grandparent, parent, sibling, a child’s spouse (son-in-law or daughter-in-law), spouse of an employee, and also includes any individual who regularly resides in the employee’s home or where the relationship creates an expectation that the employee care for the person, and the individual depends on the employee for care.
“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.
Family and medical leave is available and benefits are payable to qualified employees. The weekly PFML benefit amount is calculated by ESD and is generally up to 90% of weekly wages, with a minimum of $100 per week and a maximum of $1,427 per week (in 2023). ESD provides a benefits calculator on their website to estimate the amount.
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 parent pregnancy and parental leave).
- An additional two (2) weeks of leave is available as a result of pregnancy complications.
Notice for requesting leave
Employees must provide at least 30-day notice to the UW 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. The employee must inform the UW as soon as practical if dates of the leave change, are extended, or were initially unknown.
The notice must contain the anticipated timing and duration of the leave. For intermittent leaves, the notice must also include the anticipated frequency of the leave.
Filling a PFML claim is a separate process from applying for leave of absence from the UW. When employees file a PFML claim, the employee must also request a leave of absence with the UW or already be on an approved leave.
Medical and family care Leaves of Absence (LOA) include:
Family and Medical Leave (FMLA): provides job and health benefit protected leave for eligible employees who take leave for:
- A serious health condition, either their own or a family member’s
- Prenatal medical care or incapacity due to pregnancy and/or delivery
- Time to bond with a new baby or newly placed adopted or foster child
- Qualifying activities (exigencies) related to a family member’s military active duty
- A serious injury or illness of a family member who is a current member of the armed forces or a veteran
Parental leave: The UW provides parental leave for all regular professional staff, contract covered staff, classified staff and librarians —regardless of whether they are eligible for FMLA.
Disability leave: Disability leave may be granted to an employee who is unable to perform the essential functions of their position because of their own medical condition. For FMLA eligible employees, FMLA runs concurrently with disability leave.
Process for requesting leave
Campus staff and academic personnel: All medical and family care Leaves of Absence (LOA) in Workday begin with choosing between: LOA – General Leave Request – Sick/Injured/Family Member Care or LOA– General Request-Becoming a Parent. If the LOA is FMLA qualifying, it will be approved as FMLA, if not, another LOA type may be applicable.
The process of requesting a leave of absence is described in the FMLA Leave of Absence Journey Map (PDF).
Medical centers: Contact your HR leave specialist to request a leave of absence at MedCtrFMLA@uw.edu
Return from Leave Rights
Employees who have worked for the state of Washington for at least 1,250 hours during the twelve months immediately preceding the date on which PFML leave commenced (including employment at the UW), 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 UW may require an employee to provide certification from the employee’s health care provider that the employee is able to resume work.
The UW may require an employee on leave to periodically report on their status and intention to return to work.
Funding for the program comes from premiums paid by both the employee and the UW. Incremental increases are expected each calendar year. The premium rate for 2023 is set by ESD as 0.8 percent of wages up to the social security cap.
Employee’s Premium Contribution
The employee’s portion of the 0.8% 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 72.76% of the total 0.8% premium.
Employer’s Premium Contribution
The UW is responsible for 55% of the premiums due for the medical leave portion, resulting in a total UW responsibility of 27.24% of the total 0.8% premiums for all employees contributing to this benefit.
Visit the Employment Security Department’s Paid Family & Medical Leave webpage: https://paidleave.wa.gov/
Questions about leave of absence may be directed to the following offices: