Apply for an Exemption



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 “Choose an Account” page. Select the “Create a new account” button and then select “Apply for a WA Cares Exemption”.


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.”
  2. Scroll through the list to “Employment Security Department” and select “Paid Family and Medical Leave” from the drop-down menu.
  3. 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 “Apply for a WA Cares Exemption” button.


Please note: We need to verify certain documents when you submit your exemption application. 


Make sure you are prepared by reviewing the document linked below.


Required documentation

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:


  • 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.