If you are an employee in Washington state, you may be wondering what are the leave of absence rules that apply to your situation. A leave of absence is an absence from work mutually and voluntarily agreed upon by you and your employer or a collective bargaining agent, or leave to which you are entitled under federal or state law, where the employer-employee relationship is continued and you will be reinstated in the same or similar job when the leave expires. There are different types of leave that may be available to you depending on your circumstances, such as:
- Vacation Leave: In Washington, employers are not required to provide employees with vacation benefits, either paid or unpaid. However, if an employer chooses to do so, it must comply with its own established policy or employment contract.
- Sick Leave: Washington law requires employers to provide employees with paid sick leave. Employees must be allowed to accrue at least one hour of paid sick leave for every 40 hours worked. Employees may use their accrued, unused paid sick leave for various authorized purposes, such as caring for themselves or their family members, dealing with domestic violence issues, or when their workplace or child's school is closed for health reasons.
- Holiday Leave: In Washington, employers are not required to provide employees with holiday leave benefits, either paid or unpaid. However, if an employer chooses to do so, it must comply with its own established policy or employment contract.
- Jury Duty Leave: In Washington, employers must provide employees with unpaid jury duty leave. Employers may not discharge or threaten to discharge an employee for serving as a juror. Employees may not waive their right to jury duty leave.
- Voting Leave: In Washington, employers must provide employees with up to two hours of paid voting leave if they do not have sufficient time outside of working hours to vote. Employees must request voting leave before election day and show proof of voting if requested by the employer.
- Bereavement Leave: In Washington, employers are not required to provide employees with bereavement leave benefits, either paid or unpaid. However, if an employer chooses to do so,
it must comply with its own established policy or employment contract .
- Family and Medical Leave: In Washington, there are two laws that provide employees with family and medical leave benefits: the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and the state Paid Family and Medical Leave (PFML) program. The FMLA applies to employers with 50 or more employees and provides eligible employees with up to 12 weeks of unpaid job-protected leave per year for various qualifying reasons such as childbirth, adoption, foster care placement, serious health condition of self or family member, or military exigency . The PFML applies
to most workers in Washington state and provides eligible employees with up to three months of partial wage replacement per 12 months,
with some possibly entitled to up to 16 weeks.
Employees in Washington who use this paid leave may receive up to 90% of their weekly wages or up to $1,000 per week. Qualifying events can include: birth or placement of a new child into a family, recovery from a serious illness or injury, treatment of a chronic health condition,
inpatient treatment for substance abuse or mental health, taking care of a family member with a serious health condition, and certain military events .
These are some of the main types of leave that may be available to you as an employee in Washington state. However, there may be other types of leave that apply depending on your specific situation. You should always check with your employer about their policies and procedures regarding leaves of absence before taking any action. You should also consult a legal professional if you have any questions about your rights and obligations under federal and state laws.