The Legislature and Gov. Inslee have announced plans to change and improve the WA Cares Fund during the 2022 legislative session, which is scheduled to conclude in March 2022. Per direction from the governor, ESD will not collect premiums from employers until April 2022 or until the Legislature gives further direction.

However, the existing law still directs employers to begin collecting premiums from their employees beginning Jan. 1. Each employer will need to decide whether they will implement the law as it stands or await legislative action.

We will update the website as more information becomes available and you can sign up for the WA Cares Fund mailing list. For employer-specific information, you can also subscribe to ESD’s employer newsletter.

Knowing there’s money set aside for care in the future gives your employees peace of mind today. The WA Cares Fund makes affordable long-term care coverage available to all Washington workers. 

Employer responsibilities

Collecting premiums

As a Washington employer, you are required to report your employees’ wages and hours and pay premiums every quarter—unless you had no payroll expenses during that quarter. Beginning Jan. 1, 2022, you’ll collect premiums from your employees the same way you do now for Paid Leave—we’ve updated the Paid Leave reporting system on our end so you can report for both programs at the same time. Employers won’t pay any share of these contributions for their employees. 

Need more info on reporting? Check out this helpful info from Paid Family and Medical Leave. WA Cares reporting will be fully integrated for your convenience. 

Calculating premiums

Calculate the total premium amount for each of your employees. The premium for 2022 is 0.58 percent of an employee’s gross wages, so:

  • Gross wages x .0058 = total premium

Note that unlike Paid Family and Medical Leave, premium contributions do not top out at the taxable maximum for Social Security. That maximum is set annually and is currently $142,800.

Tracking employee exemptions 

Some employees may choose to apply for an exemption from WA Cares coverage. It’s their responsibility to apply, and—if approved—to notify and give you a copy of their approval letter from Employment Security Department (ESD). Once approved, exemptions are permanent and employees can never opt back in.

Once notified, employers must:

  • Not deduct WA Cares premiums from workers who’ve provided an ESD exemption approval letter. Note: this letter will list the effective date of the employee’s exemption.
  • Keep a copy of their workers’ approval letters on file.

 Learn more about exemptions

You can still continue offering long-term care insurance to your employees

You still have the option to offer private long-term care insurance to your employees but it’s their responsibility to decide whether to apply for an exemption. You can’t apply for exemptions on behalf of your employees. Once approved, exemptions are permanent and employees can never opt back in, even if they change jobs.

Learn more

Check out our employer toolkit

There’s plenty to know about WA Cares, and we’re committed to making your experience as easy as possible with helpful info and resources. 

Sign up for our employer newsletter

Access to information about WA Cares should be easy. That’s why we’re committed to keeping you in the loop. Check out our employer newsletter for regular WA Cares updates. 

Need more info?

Visit our Learn More page to read our frequently asked questions, including specific questions for employers.