Apply for an Exemption


Apply for an Exemption

Email notification from ESD?

Over the weekend, Employment Security Department’s system automatically generated email notifications to many customers who’ve applied for exemption from WA Cares Fund.

We’re looking into this issue and will communicate directly with customers if they need to take any action. For now, customers will see the most current and accurate information about their application in their exemptions account.

Apply for an Exemption

Frequently asked questions

Why can’t I upload my insurance policy?

Make sure you save your insurance policy, because you may need to provide it in the future. But you won’t need it for this exemption application.

When will I find out if my application has been approved?

If you’ve completed your application for an exemption from WA Cares on or before Dec. 1, ESD will process it before premiums take effect in January. We’re reviewing applications in the order we received them and will send you a confirmation email after we process your application.

We’re working as quickly as we can, but we can only guarantee we’ll process your application before the end of the year if you submit on or before Dec. 1. Please note, our customer care specialists can’t quote timelines for individual applications.

Complete your verifications

Verify your eligibility

Individuals must meet specific requirements to qualify for an exemption. Visit our exemptions page to see if you meet all of the requirements.

Verify your identity

For your safety and security, we need to verify your identity when you submit your exemption application. Make sure you’re fully prepared.

Create a SecureAccess Washington (SAW) account

Your SAW account 

Like most Washington state agencies, we use SecureAccess Washington (SAW) to manage access to customer accounts. You will need an active SAW account to log-in to Paid Family and Medical Leave and establish a WA Cares Exemption account. SecureAccess Washington is managed by WaTech. If you have questions about your SAW account, go to and click the “GET HELP” button in the menu bar. 

Already have a SAW account?

If you already have a SAW account for Paid Leave, log in and click the “Add/Switch Account” link in the menu bar on your account homepage – this will take you to the “Create an Account” page. Select “Exemption Account” and begin your application.

If you don’t already have a SAW account for Paid Leave, create one using the instructions below.

How do I create a SAW account?

If you don’t already have one, create a SAW account by going to and clicking the “SIGN UP!” button. After entering your first and last names and your email address, and confirming that you’re not a robot, you should receive an email with a link to activate your account. Once your account is active, you’ll need to add “Paid Family and Medical Leave” to your SAW services. 

How do I add Paid Family and Medical Leave to my SAW services?

Log-in to your SAW account at, select “Add A New Service,” then: 

  1. Select “I would like to browse a list of services.” 
  1. Scroll through the list to “Employment Security Department” and select “Paid Family and Medical Leave” from the drop-down menu. 
  1. When you see the confirmation screen that lets you know the service has been added to your list, click “OK”, then click “Access Now” to select “Paid Family and Medical Leave” from your list of services to access your account. 

Applying for an exemption

Once you’ve logged in and selected Paid Family and Medical Leave from your list of services in SAW, you’ll click “Continue” to proceed to creating your WA Cares Exemption account. 

On the “Create an Account” page, select the “Create an Account” button to the right of “WA Cares Exemption”.

Next steps

ESD will review your application and notify you if you’re eligible for an exemption from WA Cares coverage.  

If your application is approved

You’ll get an exemption approval letter from ESD, at which point you’ll be:

  • Expelled from the program with no option to re-enroll. 
  • Disqualified from accessing WA Cares benefits in your lifetime. 
  • Required to present your exemption approval letter to all current and future employers. If you fail to present your ESD approval letter, employers will withhold non-refundable WA Cares premiums. 

Exemptions will take effect the quarter after your application is approved.