Washington Paid Leave

Washington Paid Family and Medical Leave

The following information is from the Employment Security Department’s web page on Washington Paid Family & Medical Leave.

When can you take paid leave?

Paid Family and Medical Leave is available when you need time off to care for yourself or a family member. There are three main types of paid leave available. Each one is related to a different type of “qualifying event”—the thing that happens to you or a family member that qualifies you for paid leave.

If you know you will be applying for Washington Paid Family & Medical Leave through the Washington Employment Security Department, you must provide written notice to your employer(s) [Human Resources] at least 30 days in advance. If the reason you need leave was not foreseeable, notify your employer(s) as soon as possible. For your convenience, CPSD produced a notification form.


Medical leave is here for you when a serious health condition prevents you from working. Medical leave covers a wide range of serious health needs. For example, you can qualify because of a major surgery, after giving birth to a baby, for bed rest during pregnancy, to receive treatment for a chronic health condition, and to receive inpatient treatment for substance abuse or mental health.


Family leave is here for you when you need to take time off to care for a family member. If your family member has a serious health condition that would qualify them for medical leave, or if you’re welcoming a new baby or child into your family, that’s when you can take family leave.


Military family leave is here for you to allow you to spend time with a family member in the military. If your family member is about to be deployed overseas or is returning from overseas deployment, that’s when you can take this type of family leave.

Using paid leave to care for a family member

If your family member has a serious health condition or injury or is in the military, you may qualify for paid leave to be with them.

These are the family members you can take paid leave to care for:

  • Spouses and domestic partners
  • Children (biological, adopted, foster or stepchild)
  • Parents and legal guardians (or spouse’s parents)
  • Siblings
  • Grandchildren
  • Grandparents (or spouse’s grandparents)

Who can take paid leave

Nearly every Washington worker can qualify for paid leave as long as you work a minimum of 820 hours (about 16 hours a week) in Washington during the qualifying period, which is about the last year. The 820 hours can be at one job or combined from multiple jobs.

To be eligible, you only need to have worked in Washington the 820 hours, experienced a qualifying event and be able to provide proof of identification. Many documents can be used to prove your identity, including school transcripts and birth certificates from other countries. Download the full list of accepted documents.


If you are taking leave to bond with a new baby or child, you qualify for 12 weeks of paid leave. If you give birth to a baby, you qualify for up to 16 weeks of combined medical and family leave. An additional two weeks is possible if you experience incapacity due to your pregnancy.


If you are taking leave because of a serious injury or illness—or to take care of a family member with a serious medical need—the amount of paid leave you can take is determined by your or your family member’s medical provider and based on the amount of time that is medically necessary. (Up to 12 weeks a year.)

You may qualify for up to 16 weeks of paid leave if you have a personal medical event and a family caregiving event in the same year, like recovering from a surgery and caring for an ill family member, or giving birth and then taking time to bond with your new baby.


At least 8 hours: When you use your paid leave, you have to take at least eight hours off in row. That’s one day for full-time employees but may be more than one day if you work part time.

Typical work week: Your duration of leave is determined based on your “typical workweek hours.” This is your average number of hours worked per week since the beginning of the qualifying period. Salaried, full-time employees are always calculated at 40 hours per week. Your typical workweek hours are multiplied by the maximum number of weeks allowable for the event, usually 12 weeks, creating a bank of hours you can draw from while on leave.

One year: You can use paid leave for a year after your leave starts (or, if you have a baby or new child, one year after they join your family). If you don’t use it all within one year, it will not carry over into the next year.

Waiting week: Your “waiting week” is the first week you are approved to file a weekly claim and you will not be paid for that week (this does not apply to leave to bond with a new child). If your qualifying event occurs after Sunday in the first week you need to take leave, the waiting week may be less than a week. During this time, you may use paid time off from your employer, including paid vacation or sick days. For more on the waiting week, go to our more answers page

What to expect after you apply

After you submit your application, Paid Family and Medical Leave program staff will review it to:

  • make sure you have worked enough hours to qualify;
  • confirm that your event qualifies for paid leave;
  • record the length of leave that your medical provider has certified (for your own medical leave or leave to take care of a family member for medical reasons); and
  • determine how much pay you are eligible to receive during your leave.

Please be sure you have submitted a complete and accurate application, including all required paperwork and proof of identification as this will help us process your application faster.

Processing your claim: We are excited to see demand for the new program, but that demand has led to a high volume of applications. Processing times are dependent on volume. Visit the “After you apply” page for more information.