How to file for PFML
Last updated: December 20, 2022
Employees can apply for paid leave benefits online through the Employment Security Department’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. Employees should begin a leave of absence by following the appropriate UW process, including completing medical or other supporting documentation (e.g., a FMLA Health Care Provider Statement). ESD and UW cannot share medical documentation, but ESD may accept a copy of the medical documentation already provided to UW as part of the PFML claim.
Generally, the process looks like this:
Step 1: Employees will create a Benefit Account (not an employer account) with ESD, provide contact information, confirm Washington state employment (UW’s UBI #: 178019988), leave type requested, dates of the leave, date notice was provided to the UW, and documentation supporting the leave of absence.
Step 2: ESD will use hours and wage information they receive quarterly from all employers in Washington to determine eligibility. ESD will contact the UW to confirm details of the employee’s claim.
Step 3: Once ESD approves the claim, employees will submit weekly claims to ESD for the paid benefit. In order to best support employees utilizing PFML, the UW allows employees the option of using an approved time off during the same time they are receiving the PFML benefit. This is called a “supplemental benefit.” Neither employees or UW report supplemental benefits.
Individuals have 12 months from the date of a child’s birth or placement (foster or adoption) to take family leave. There is a waiting period of up to 7 days before an employee will be eligible for PFML benefits except for leaves for birth or placement of a child, leave for reasons related to a qualified military exigency, or for PFML covered leaves following the loss of a child. These exceptions are described at ESD’s What is family leave? webpage.
Important information about supplemental benefits
A supplemental benefit payment is a payment offered by an employer to an employee who is taking leave under the Washington Paid Family & Medical Leave (PFML) program. UW has designated certain types of paid time off as supplemental benefits. This means employees can choose to use paid time off (as described below) to supplement the money they receive as partial wage replacement from the ESD while on a PFML leave. Employees can receive both paid time off from the UW and the PFML benefit from ESD for the same period.
Shared Leave may not be designated as a supplemental benefit.
Time off that can be designated as supplemental benefits
|Employment program||A supplemental benefit is…|
|Classified non-union||Defined by Washington Administrative Code (WAC) rules and includes:
|Contract covered||Determined by your collective bargaining agreement |
|Professional staff||Defined by the Professional Staff Program and includes:
|Temporary hourly staff and student hourly employees||Sick time off|
|Salaried Academic Student Employees (ASEs)||Determined by collective agreement provisions that govern paid time off, and includes:
 Classified non-union employees may use bereavement leave as a supplemental benefit, effective January 1, 2023. The use is limited to the death of an employee’s family member or household member per WAC 357-31-250.
 PFML leave has been expanded to allow up to 7 calendar days of paid leave 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. Effective June 9, 2022, UW allows the use of bereavement time off as a supplemental benefit in these same circumstances.
Supplemental benefit time off usage during a PFML leave
Employees are not required to take accrued or awarded time off before, in place of, or at the same time as PFML benefits. Employees decide whether or not to use supplemental benefits.
Employee reporting requirements during a PFML leave
When employees use accrued or awarded paid time off designated as a supplemental benefit during an approved PFML leave, they do not report that time off to ESD on the weekly application for benefits. The employee receives the full amount of paid time off from the UW and the PFML benefit from ESD.
Impact of Supplemental Benefits Usage
Because the use of paid time off that is designated as a supplemental benefit is excluded from the definition of wages in RCW 50A.05.010, the PFML premium deduction will not be taken from supplemental benefits used during a PFML leave of absence. Likewise, the UW does not report supplemental benefit payments or associated hours to ESD.
When a 100% FTE employee uses 40 hours of sick time off during an approved PFML leave, as long as the sick time off is designated as a supplemental benefit and also not reported to ESD, the employee receives their full pay from UW and the full benefit amount from ESD.
FAQs – Supplemental Benefits
- Can I hold on to my vacation and sick time off balances and just get the check from ESD?
Yes. During a PFML leave of absence, employees are not required to use paid time off before using unpaid time off.
- Can I use portions of my accrued or awarded time off in a week from UW to equal 100% of wages when added to the check I will get from ESD?
Yes. During a PFML leave, it is the employee’s choice whether to use accrued paid time off, and in what amount.