HR Operations

Frequently asked questions


Updated March 17, 2020 to include COVID-19 related information.

Can I request PFML for COVID-19 concerns?

Testing positive for COVID-19 may meet the definition of a qualifying condition under the PFML law. Absences for self-isolation without a diagnosis do not meet the definition of a qualifying condition. Check the Paid Family & Medical Leave coronavirus information page.

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How does PFML work with other leaves of absence?

The federal Family & Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is an unpaid leave entitlement that provides job and health insurance protection when eligible employees take a leave of absence for a qualifying reason. Visit UW’s FMLA webpage. The Washington State Paid Family & Medical Leave (PFML) program is a state of Washington program that provides partial wage replacement in the form of a weekly benefit paid by ESD while claiming this benefit. For employees who have worked for the state of Washington for at least 12 months and 1250 hours, including employment at the UW, PFML leave will be job and health benefit protected.

The University determines when to designate a leave as FMLA covered. Employees choose whether and when to file a PFML claim. PFML does not replace FMLA. In many cases PFML and FMLA will run at the same time.

PFML FMLA
Coverage by location Work performed in State of Washington. Work performed for UW in United States.
Eligibility Must have been employed 820 hours in the state of WA in the qualifying period. Must have worked 12 months and 1,250 hours for the State of WA (incl. UW) prior to start of FMLA leave.
Job protection Must have worked 12 months and 1,250 hours for the State of WA (inc. UW) prior to start of PFML leave. Must have worked 12 months and 1,250 hours for the State of WA (incl. UW) prior to start of FMLA leave.
Pay Up to 90 percent of your average weekly wages capped at $1,000 per week. Unpaid
Use of accrued paid and time off Can choose whether or not to use accrued UW paid time off on top of money received from State. Use accrued UW paid time off otherwise leave is unpaid.
Covered circumstances
  • Caring for your own or family member’s serious health condition.
  • Bonding with newborn, newly adopted or foster child.
  • Qualifying military exigency.
  • Caring for your own or family member’s serious health condition.
  • Bonding with newborn, newly adopted or foster child.
  • Qualifying military exigency.
How to apply Apply for paid benefits online or by mail with the Employment Security Department. Follow established UW processes to request a leave of absence and record paid or unpaid time off. UW will designate the FMLA time period.
Employee notice to UW Provide written notice at least 30 days before you plan to take PFML leave (may or may not be same date you first take leave from UW). Provide notice as soon as you are able to if your leave is not planned. Provide notice at least 30 days before you plan to take leave for a circumstance covered by FMLA. Provide notice as soon as you are able if your leave is not planned.
Length of leave of absence Up to 12-16 weeks a year depending on qualifying condition, measured forward from first day of PFML leave (up to 18 weeks if you have pregnancy complications). Up to 12 weeks a year, measured looking backward from first day of FMLA leave.
Increment of leave Minimum of 8 consecutive hours. Minimum of 15 minutes.
Maintenance of employer portion of healthcare premium Must have worked 12 months and 1,250 hours for the State of WA (inc. UW) prior to start of PFML leave. Must have worked 12 months and 1,250 hours for the State of WA (incl. UW) prior to start of FMLA leave.
Family Member Definition Similar to FMLA, but also includes grandchildren, grandparents, siblings, in-laws. Child, parent, spouse, domestic partner.

 

While PFML is not an accrued type of UW time off, if eligible, it provides partial wage replacement in the form of a weekly benefit paid by ESD while claiming this benefit and may provide job protection for your time away and maintenance of the employer portion of your health insurance.

No. The UW has designated certain earned paid time off such as vacation and sick time off as a “supplemental benefit,” so you do not need to be in unpaid status to receive the PFML benefit from ESD.

Yes, if you meet eligibility requirements. You have 12 months from the date of a child’s birth, adoption or placement to take your paid leave. That means that if your child was born or placed in your family after January 2, 2019, you can still take leave in 2020, but you may not qualify for the full 12 to 16 weeks of paid leave. For example, if your child was born February 1, 2019, you qualify for paid leave from January 1 until February 1, 2020. But if your child joined your family on May 25, 2019, you can apply for benefits and take your full leave any time before May 25, 2020.

For more information, see https://paidleave.wa.gov/workers.

Yes, you may file a claim to receive PFML partial wage replacement for periods when you are not working at the UW and/or have been terminated.

Yes. The minimum claim is eight (8) consecutive hours.

Yes. UW’s procedures for submitting medical documentation in connection with FMLA, disability leaves of absence and other medical leaves will not change. ESD and the UW will not share medical documentation. ESD may accept medical documentation you have already provided to UW to support your PFML claim.

No. For each week you are eligible to receive workers compensation benefits, you are disqualified from receiving PFML benefits.

Yes. PFML allows employees to take intermittent leave for baby bonding.

Time offs must be entered for each work day of a leave of absence. Visit the How to file for PFML webpage for more information about time off choices including supplemental benefits.

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Applying for PFML

PFML leave requests can be filed with ESD retroactively for “good cause” as outlined in WAC 192-610-040. Generally speaking, employees should give notice at least 30 days in advance and file PFML leave of absence requests in advance of the leave.

As always, first follow the established UW leave request or extension processes. Next, contact ESD to file (or reopen) a weekly claim for PFML benefits.

For medical leaves of absence, there is a waiting period of up to seven days prior to receiving partial wage replacement from ESD; there is no waiting period for parental leaves of absence. Your “waiting week” is the first week you are approved to file a weekly claim. Claim weeks always end on Saturday night. If the qualifying event occurred mid-week, the “waiting week” may be less than a week. During the waiting week, you may use paid time off, including vacation or sick days. If the first week of your paid family or medical leave happens before you receive your approval letter and are able to begin filing weekly claims, that first week still counts as your waiting week.

Example: Your medical leave start date is January 13 and you receive your ESD approval letter on January 22. Once you are approved and can file weekly claims, the first week of your approved leave is your waiting week, so the first week you can claim is the week of January 19.

The UBI for the University of Washington is 178019988.
For employees located at Harborview Medical Center, the UBI is 578066606.

More than one UBI # is associated with the UW. The correct UBI to use for filing a PFML claim is 178019988.

Harborview Medical Center (HMC) employees, please select the HMC UBI# 578066606.

UW should receive a paper copy of the same approval notice you receive from ESD through regular mail. On occasion, UW has not received the employer copy.  If your claim has been approved, and you would like to help us expedite the approval in Workday, you can email screenshots or a copy of the approval you received from ESD to your leave specialist. An acceptable approval includes employee name, approved dates, claim type (Family or Medical), Claim ID #, and Claim Status (Approved).

Picture of information that can be sent to UWHR as a screenshot
Picture of information that can be sent to UWHR as a screenshot

Here is a sample email notice for a general leave of absence:

SUBJECT: PFML leave of absence notice [YOUR NAME]
Dear [MANAGER],
This is to notify you that I plan to take (TYPE OF LEAVE: MEDICAL LEAVE/ FAMILY LEAVE/ COMBINATION OF BOTH) starting (DATE).
I expect to be gone for (NUMBER OF DAYS/WEEKS) and hope to return (DATE).

Sample email notice for an intermittent leave of absence:
SUBJECT: PFML intermittent leave of absence notice [YOUR NAME]
Dear [MANAGER],
This is to notify you that I plan to take MEDICAL LEAVE/ FAMILY LEAVE intermittently starting ____(DATE)____.
I expect to be gone __ (NUMBER OF DAYS PER WEEK/MONTH and/or HOURS PER DAY and/or DAYS OF THE WEEK (“2 days a week for 8 hours a day” or “every other Thursday”).

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PFML and getting paid

ESD will determine how much you will receive. Payments are based on a percentage of your typical weekly earnings, up to $1,000 a week. You can estimate your amount using ESD’s payment calculator.

ESD is waiting for a definitive response from the IRS on this.

ESD is waiting for a definitive response from the IRS on this.

The UW’s holiday pay rules apply during a PFML leave of absence. In order to be paid for a holiday, you must either work or use paid time off before the holiday as described by the rules of your employment program. The rules for classified non-union, contract classified and professional staff employees are summarized here: https://hr.uw.edu/ops/leaves/holidays/.

The best way to correct a time off entry is to change the Type (see green box below) from a regular time off type to a “PFML” time off type.

Deleting the row or updating the quantity to zero and then entering a new time off transaction (orange boxes) is not recommended. Doing so requires that the deleted entries be approved and may result in errors if individuals do not have large enough time off balances to accommodate all “in process” time off request transactions.

You will be asked:

  • If you have filed a workers’ compensation or unemployment insurance claim
  • Hours worked during the period
  • Hours you were (or will be) paid for time off that are not considered a supplemental benefit payment (UW employees don’t report if any sick, vacation or other accrued UW time off you are using for this time period.)
  • If you have missed at least 8 consecutive hours of work during the week
  • If you have experienced a change that could impact the duration of your leave


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Other (retirement, health insurance, seniority)

If you qualify for PFML and meet the job protected qualifying conditions of 1250 hours worked in the previous 12 months prior to the leave, you do not need to intersperse 8 hours of time off per month because the employer portion of your healthcare benefits will be maintained; you will still be responsible for the employee portion.

No. Only employees whose work is performed in the state of Washington participate in the program.

PFML does not affect the UW’s time off accrual rules. You do not accrue any vacation or sick time off hours, nor months of service toward a higher vacation accrual rate during a calendar month in which you have taken more than 80 hours (prorated for part-time employment) as unpaid time off. If you take PFML as unpaid time off from UW, your accruals will be affected the same as if you were not taking PFML.

PFML does not affect the University’s seniority or progression start date.

While you can file for PFML even if you have separated from the UW, you are not allowed to receive unemployment benefits at the same time as PFML benefits.

No. The employee is receiving payment from ESD, not from their employer. Therefore, it is not reportable to the Department of Retirement Systems (DRS). An employee has the opportunity to purchase back any lost credit from DRS by requesting a bill for the Authorized Leave of Absence credit. This is similar to what occurs when an employee is receiving workers’ compensation benefits from Labor & Industries.

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