Frequently asked questions
Table of Contents
Last updated: September 22, 2023
This page applies to all staff, academic personnel, and student employees.
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. For more information, visit the 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.
|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 $1,427 per week in 2023.||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.|
|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 and domestic partner (FMLA definition), siblings, grandparents and in-laws (expanded UW family member definition)|
Applying for PFML
For medical leaves of absence or reasons related to a military exigency, 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.
More than one UBI # is associated with the UW. The correct UBI to use for filing a PFML claim is 178019988.
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).
Sample email notice for a general leave of absence:
SUBJECT: PFML leave of absence notice [YOUR NAME]
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]
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”).
PFML and getting paid
ESD has not received guidance from the Internal Revenue Service about whether PFML benefit payments will be taxed by the federal government. Absent guidance, ESD issued Form 1099-G to people who received PFML benefit payments in 2020 so that individuals have the information they might need to file their taxes. More information can be found on ESD’s FAQ page and in this ESD fact-sheet sent along with the 1099-G form.
Corrections can only be done once the leave of absence for PFML has already been entered (not just approved). 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