Need to Know

Leaves & Benefits - What an Employee Needs to Know


  • Leaves of Absence and District Contributions for Employee Benefits

    There are different types of employment leave. If an employee requests a leave, he/she will receive a confirmation from Human Resources regarding requested leave and whether or not he/she qualifies for FMLA. Depending on the circumstances of requested leave, District contributions for benefits may continue for all or part of employee’s leave. More information is available through the Payroll/Benefits team.

    If an employee is going on leave because she is having a baby, please review the “Having a Baby? Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Leaves & Benefits,” which addresses issues specific to pregnancy and maternity leave.

What Types of Leaves Are There?

  • Washington State Family Care Act (FCA)
    The Washington Family Care Act (FCA) allows employees to take any paid leave offered by their employer to:
    • Provide treatment or supervision for a child with a health condition.
    • Care for a qualifying family member with a serious or emergency health condition.

    Leave under the FCA is not available for an employee’s personal medical condition. It can only be used for a qualifying family member.

    Employers cannot prescribe the type of leave an employee chooses under this Act.

    The FCA allows employees to choose the type of leave from any earned, paid leave benefit including:

    • Paid sick leave
    • Vacation leave
    • Personal leave

    The FCA allows employees their choice of earned paid leaves to care for qualifying family members.


    The FCA can be used for the following situations:

    • Family member with a serious health condition.
    • Child with a health condition requiring treatment or supervision including preventative health care.
    • Wife or daughter who is disabled because of pregnancy or childbirth.

    Qualifying Family Members:

    • Child under 18 (biological, adopted, foster, stepchild, etc.) or adult child incapable of self-care
    • Parents
    • Spouse
    • Registered domestic partner
    • Parents-in law
    • Grandparents
  • Family & Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
    The Family& Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provides eligible employees up to 12 workweeks of unpaid leave a year, and requires group health benefits to be maintained during the leave as if employees continued to work instead of taking leave. Employees are also entitled to return to their same or an equivalent job at the end of their FMLA leave.

    In order to be eligible to take leave under the FMLA, an employee must:

    • Work for a covered employer;
    • Have worked 1,250 hours during the 12 months prior to the start of leave (Paid leave and unpaid leave, including FMLA leave, are not included); and
    • Have worked for the employer for 12 months.


    A covered employer must grant an eligible employee up to a total of 12 workweeks of unpaid, job-protected leave in a 12-month period for one or more of the following reasons:

    • For the birth of a son or daughter, and to bond with the newborn child;
    • For the placement with the employee of a child for adoption or foster care, and to bond with that child;
    • To care for an immediate family member (spouse, child, or parent – but not a parent “in-law”) with a serious health condition;
    • To take medical leave when the employee is unable to work because of a serious health condition; or
    • For qualifying exigencies arising out of the fact that the employee’s spouse, son, daughter, or parent is on covered active duty or call to covered active duty status as a member of the National Guard, Reserves, or Regular Armed Forces.


    FMLA leave can be paid leave or unpaid leave. In either case, the District would continue its contribution for employee’s benefits for up to 12 weeks. After 12 weeks, employee’s benefits could continue through COBRA. Information will be mailed to employee when he/she becomes eligible for COBRA, and then employee can make elections and pay premiums directly to COBRA.

What Happens to Employee’s Benefits if Employee’s Leave is Paid?

A “paid leave” occurs when employee continues to get paid while on leave, or through the use of paid vacation, sick time, or donated leave. As long as employee is still being paid while on a District‐approved leave and was enrolled for benefits when the leave began, a District contribution toward the cost of employee benefits would continue. In addition, if employee shared in the cost of his/her benefits through a payroll deduction, employee’s deduction for benefits would continue as well.

What Happens to Employee’s Benefits when Employee’s Paid Leave Ends (Unpaid Leave)?

If employee’s pay ends while still on leave, employee’s status would change to “unpaid leave.” The District contributions would continue while in protected leave (FMLA period). When District contributions for benefits end (at the end of the FMLA period), employee will receive a letter offering him/her the opportunity to elect COBRA benefits. The COBRA period is usually 18 months, but can be longer. Under COBRA, employee would pay the entire premium, plus applicable administrative charges.

When Do District Contributions for Benefits End?

District contributions conclude at the end of the month the employee stops being eligible for employer contributions (at the end of FMLA period). When District contributions for benefits end, employee will receive a letter offering him/her the opportunity to elect COBRA benefits. The COBRA period is usually 18 months, but can be longer. Under COBRA, employee would pay the entire premium, plus applicable administrative charges.

What Should Employee Do When Returns from Leave?

If employee received District contributions for benefits throughout leave, employee will not need to do anything about benefits upon return. However, if employee was on COBRA, or if employee has allowed his/her benefits to lapse, employee must elect benefits through “SEBB My Account” within 30 days of return to work. Otherwise, benefits will be defaulted to the SEBB chosen plan. Benefits begin the first of the month following the return of active employment.

Where Does an Employee Find the Enrollment and Change Form?

Employee will need to log into “SEBB My Account” to access enrollment and changes.

For information on Washington Paid Family & Medical Leave, select here