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Workers eligible for WA Cares exemptions must apply by June 1 to avoid paycheck deductions starting in July

Private insurance exemptions are no longer available, but four new types of WA Cares exemptions will be available on an ongoing basis. Applications for these new exemptions will be processed before premiums take effect in July if they are submitted on or before June 1, 2023. We will continue to process applications received after June 1 as quickly as possible. Exemption applications approved on or after July 1 will not be effective until Oct. 1, 2023, at the earliest because premiums are collected on a quarterly basis.

Knowing there is money set aside for care in the future gives employees peace of mind today. The WA Cares Fund makes long-term care insurance accessible for all Washington workers.

You can still offer long-term care insurance to your employees! Offering private long-term care insurance to your employees can help supplement their WA Cares benefit and give them greater security into the future. However, it is your employee’s responsibility to decide whether or not to apply for an exemption. You cannot apply for exemptions on behalf of your employees.

Remember, once approved, private long-term care insurance exemptions are permanent. Employees cannot opt back in, even if their employment changes.

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 July 1, 2023, you’ll collect premiums from your employees the same way you do now for Paid Leave — we’re updating 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 WA Cares 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 2023 is 0.58 percent of an employee’s gross wages, so:

    • Gross Wages x 0.0058 = premium for employee

NEW! Check out our updated premium calculator, which will help you determine premium amounts for both WA Cares and Paid Leave.

Please note: Unlike Paid Leave, premium contributions are not capped at the taxable maximum for social security.

Tracking Employee Exemptions

Some of your employees may choose to apply for an exemption from the WA Cares Fund. It’s the employee’s responsibility to apply and – if approved – to notify you (their employer) and provide you with a copy of their approval letter from ESD.

Once approved, private long term care insurance and service-connected disability exemptions are permanent. Employees cannot opt back in.  

Other exemption categories are conditional upon the employee continuing to meet the requirements of the exemption. It is the employee’s responsibility to notify their employer of any changes to their exemption status and failure to do so can result in required back-payment of premiums and additional penalties. Read more about that here.

Once notified of an employee’s exemption, employers must:

    • Keep a copy of the employee’s approval letter on file.
    • Not deduct WA Cares premiums from exempt workers.

Please note: Approval letters provided by ESD will list the date on which the employee’s exemption takes effect.

Learn more about exemptions here.

Learn more

Check out our employer toolkit

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When will employees start paying the premium?
Premium withholding will begin July 1, 2023.

Am I supposed to withhold WA Cares premiums from my employees now?
No. The Legislature delayed parts of the WA Cares implementation by 18 months, so employers won’t begin withholding premiums until July 1, 2023.

If you already withheld WA Cares premiums from your employees, you must refund them within 120 days of collection.

Are the file specifications for quarterly reports changing?
Yes. Updated file specifications will be available soon.

Can I use the CSV file that is just used for Paid Leave, or do I have to use the new file specs that include WA Cares? What about amendments?
We’ll still accept reports using the old format until reporting for WA Cares begins in October 2023.

Can I use the ICESA file that is just for Paid Leave, or do I have to use the new file specs that include WA Cares? What about amendments?
We’ll still accept reports using the old format until reporting for WA Cares begins in October 2023.

When can I test the new CSV file specifications?
Employers will be able to test the new CSV file specifications in June 2023.

When can I test the new ICESA file specifications?
Employer agents, or third-party administrators, will be able to test the new ICESA file specifications in June 2023.

More FAQs for employers

Need more info?

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