The lack of information about an employee’s Paid Family Medical Leave (PFML) can lead to challenges when administering a Washington employee’s leave. Fortunately, a little help is on the way due to a bill recently passed by the legislature.
Beginning January 1, 2024, employers will be able to ask the Employment Security Department (ESD) to provide the following information about an employee’s approved PFML leave:
(1) the type of leave being taken (Medical or Family);
(2) the requested duration of the leave, including approved dates of the leave; and
(3) whether the employee was approved for benefits and was paid benefits in any given week.
The information provided may only be used for the purpose of administering internal employer leave or benefit practices under established employer policies. The ESD has the authority to investigate any use of the information to ensure compliance with the new law.
This information should help employers to plan for an employee’s absence and provide some certainty as to when the employer can expect the employee to return to work. If an employer is allowing employees to supplement PFML benefits with other paid leave, the employer will now know how much the employee received in any week without relying on the employee to self-report.
The ESD is expected to create a process by which the employer can request the information. The new bill provisions will be added to RCW 50A.25.040.
If an employer elects to ask for PFML information for an employee, it will need to take steps to safeguard the information similarly to any other medical or private information of the employee. Only those employer agents with a need to know should be provided with the information, and all documents should be protected.