EMPLOYER INFORMATION

EMPLOYER INFORMATION

EMPLOYER INFORMATION

Employer update

On Jan. 27, Gov. Inslee signed a bill that delays parts of WA Cares implementation by 18 months. Most immediately, premium collection for WA Cares won’t begin until July 2023. See below for further guidance.

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 July 1, 2023, 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. 

Feb. 2022 update:

  • ESD won’t accept any WA Cares premium payments for the first quarter of 2022. We’re developing updated information and guidance that we’ll publish here and communicate via our employer newsletter and through postal mail to employer addresses on file.
  • Employers should stop withholding WA Cares premiums from employee earnings and reimburse employees for WA Cares premiums within 120 days of the date premiums were collected.
  • Although ESD is not accepting premium payments for WA Cares, Paid Family and Medical Leave premiums are still due.

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 .0058 = total premium

Note that unlike Paid Family and Medical Leave, premium contributions do not top out at the taxable maximum for Social Security.

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

Feb. 2022 update:

  • Approved exemptions are permanent — please continue to maintain copies of exemption approval letters for workers who’ve provided them.

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. 

FAQ

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.

I included my WA Cares premium payment with my Paid Leave payment. How do I get a refund for my WA Cares premiums?
If you’re up to date with Paid Leave reporting and payments and have a credit balance on your account, you can request a refund for any WA Cares premiums included with your Paid Leave payment. If you have a balance due for Paid Leave, your payment will be applied to that balance first.

Is quarterly reporting required in April 2022?
While WA Cares reporting is delayed, employers are still required to report and remit premiums for Paid Family and Medical Leave in April 2022.

Are the file specifications for quarterly reports changing?
ESD released new file specifications for Paid Leave and WA Cares Fund quarterly reporting last fall, and those specifications will not change. However, until WA Cares reporting begins in October 2023, employers can submit reports using either the old or new format. If using the new format, enter “$0” in fields related to WA Cares.

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 encourage employers to start using the new file specs in April 2022, both for initial reports and amendments. However, 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 encourage employers to start using the new file specs in April 2022, both for initial reports and amendments. However, 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 can test the new CSV file specifications starting in April 2022.

When can I test the new ICESA file specifications?
Employer agents, or third-party administrators, can test the new ICESA file specifications starting in April 2022.

More FAQs for employers

Need more info?

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