During the 2022 legislative session, Governor Inslee and the legislature created several exemption pathways for Washington workers who aren’t likely to use their WA Cares benefits in the future. This page details what we know about those exemptions so far, when you can apply and what it means for your WA Cares benefit going forward.
ESD is currently processing a high volume of exemption applications. We are doing our best to process applications as quickly as possible but we are not able to address all applications before your employer began withholding premiums on July 1.
If you submitted your application before July 1, and it is approved, you will be issued an effective exemption date of July 1, 2023, regardless of when ESD approves your application. In some cases, this may mean your employer will be deducting premiums from your wages before you are able to provide them a copy of your exemption approval letter. Once you provide them your letter, your employer must stop withholding WA Cares premiums and we encourage them to return your deductions at their earliest convenience since ESD will not assess premiums for you for any part of Q3.
If you submitted your application on July 1 or after, and it is approved, you will be issued an effective exemption date starting the quarter following the date your exemption was approved and will be assessed premiums for all of Q3. Once you provide them your letter, your employer must stop withholding WA Cares premiums at the beginning of Q4.
There are two ways to get copies of your approval letter:
- Log in to your WA Cares exemption account and click on the ‘Exemption ID’ of your approved exemption to view and download a copy.
- Call us at 833-717-2273 to request more copies be mailed to you.
For more information, download our exemption info sheet.
Applying for an exemption
Unlike the previous exemption pathway, which had a deadline to apply, these exemptions became available on an ongoing basis Jan. 1, 2023. The Employment Security Department is responsible for processing applications for those wishing to seek an exemption under these new categories. Sign up for the WA Cares Fund mailing list to receive updated information about exemptions, as well as other important program news.
If your exemption is approved
You will receive an exemption approval letter from the ESD, which you will need to present to all your current and future employers. Once you provide your approval letter to your employers and the effective date of your exemption has passed, your employers must stop withholding premiums. If your employers continue to withhold premiums, they must return them to you.
Please note: If you fail to present your approval letter to your employers, any premiums that may have been collected will not count toward benefit eligibility and employers have no responsibility to return those premiums to you.
Exemptions will take effect the quarter after your application is approved.