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    IRS Overhauls Form W-4 for 2020 Employee Withholding

    The new form allows for more-accurate withholding, greater privacy for employees

    By Stephen Miller, CEBS December 9, 2019

    In Dec. 5, the IRS released the long-awaited final version of the 2020 Form W-4, retitled Employee's Withholding Certificate, with major revisions designed to make accurate income-tax withholding easier for employees starting next year. In August, the IRS posted FAQs about the changes incorporated in the revised form.

    These are the key points employers should note, the IRS said when the final version of the 2020 Form W-4 was released:

    • All new employees hired as of Jan. 1, 2020, must complete the new form.
    • Current employees are not required to complete a new form but can choose to adjust their withholding based on the new form.
    • Any adjustments made after Jan. 1, 2020, must be made using the new form.
    • Employers can still compute withholding based on information from employees' most recently submitted Form W-4 if employees choose not to adjust their withholding using the revised form.

    The IRS updated the W-4 form to reflect tax code changes ushered in by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which took effect last year. Unlike the 2019 Form W-4, the revised form excludes withholding allowances, which were tied to the personal exemption amount—$4,050 for 2017—and are now suspended (hence the form's name change from Employee's Withholding Allowance Certificate). It also replaces complicated worksheets with more straightforward questions.

    W-4 form 2020-crop2.jpg

    "The primary goals of the new design are to provide simplicity, accuracy and privacy for employees while minimizing burden for employers and payroll processors," IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig said. Changes made since the last draft include minor edits and added language on page 2 under "Your Privacy."

    "Employers can ask employees hired before 2020 to use the new form, but [employees] are not required to do so," said Jon Barber, senior vice president of tax policy and research at Ayco, a financial counseling and investment management firm. Employers should, however, "explain that withholding will continue based on the form they previously submitted and may not be as accurate as using the new W-4." 

    Alice Jacobsohn, senior manager of government relations for the American Payroll Association (APA), a payroll industry trade group, noted that:

    • If a newly hired employee in 2020 does not complete a 2020 Form W-4, the employer instructions state that employers should treat them as a single filer with no other adjustments.
    • If an employee only completes step 1 and 5, the employer is instructed to withhold based on the identified withholding status with no other adjustments.

    As before, employees' tax liability is based on combined income from all sources, including second jobs, investment income and a spouse's earnings. "Additional tax may be due at the time of filing if withholding is not sufficient to meet tax obligations," Barber explained. So employees may want to make adjustments to reflect these additional incomes, deductions and credits.

    [SHRM members-only HR Q&A: Are employers required to have employees complete a new W‑4 each year?]

    What's Changed

    The 2020 Form W-4 is presented on a single, full page, followed by instructions, worksheets and tables. In place of withholding allowances, the new W-4 includes a process with five possible steps for declaring additional income, so employees can adjust their withholding with varying levels of accuracy, privacy and ease of use.

    The five steps are:

    Step 1. Enter personal information.

    Step 2. Indicate multiple jobs or if spouse works.

    Step 3. Claim dependents.

    Step 4. Make other adjustments including for:

    • Step 4(a): Investment and retirement income.
    • Step 4(b): Deductions other than the standard deduction.
    • Step 4(c): Any extra tax withholding per pay period.

    Step 5. Sign the form.


    The IRS explained that:

    • The only two steps required for all employees are Step 1, where they enter personal information such as their name and filing status, and Step 5, where they sign the form.
    • If Steps 2, 3 or 4 apply to employees and they choose to provide that information, their withholding will more accurately match their tax liability if they complete them. Employees, however, can adjust their withholding in Step 4(c) without sharing additional information.

    "If an employee uses the IRS Tax Estimator or the Multiple Jobs Worksheet to calculate income from another job, the amount is placed in step 4(c)," Jacobsohn said. "Employees who just want additional withholding should also use 4(c)."

    The space below step 4(c) is used for employees to identify that they are nonresident aliens or are exempt from paying taxes. "If you use an electronic form, developers are instructed to provide a place to enter the information, such as a check box," Jacobsohn said.

    An important consideration for HR and payroll departments, said Jamal Ayyad, a small business tax advocate at online payroll firm SurePayroll, is that "they may want to let new employees take the form home rather than complete it on their first day as is customary, because tax information is required that the employee might not have readily available."

    'HR may want to let new employees take the form home rather than complete it on their first day.'

    Easier for Employees

    "Generally, the new Form W-4 is an improvement for employees," said Pete Isberg, vice president of government relations at payroll and HR services firm ADP. "For example, previously, employees would complete a difficult worksheet to convert expected deductions to a number of withholding allowances. With the new form, they'll just enter their full-year expected deductions over the standard deduction amount."

    Not requiring employees to submit the new W-4 will ease HR's burden, but it also means that "employers will need to program their payroll system to accommodate the existing withholding calculation, as well as the new method," Barber said. However, "companies' payroll software will not necessarily require two different systems for the two different forms, since the same set of withholding tables will be used for both," he explained.

    Addressing Privacy Concerns

    With the new version of the form, taxpayers can "indicate their desire to have more tax withheld without having to share details with their employer," said Mike Trabold, director of compliance at Paychex, an HR technology services and payroll firm. Although this may lead to too much withholding for some taxpayers, "it will help address concerns of those who prefer to get a refund check every year or who may have had to unexpectedly pay tax when filing this year."

    A worksheet to help taxpayers with the new form "will not be provided to the employer, further assuring privacy," Trabold noted.

    Spread the Word

    The About Form W-4 page on www.irs.gov has additional information about the revised form. In addition, the APA drafted a sample letter outlining key changes to Form W-4, with basic information about the new steps employees will take to complete the form.

    "Employers can freely customize and share this letter with employees," the APA said. The letter also recommends that employees perform a "paycheck checkup" using the IRS's Tax Withholding Estimator (see below).

    An Updated IRS Tax Estimator

    Employees can use the IRS Tax Withholding Estimator to help them complete the new Form W‑4. The calculator, updated in August with several new functions, is designed to help employees estimate any additional withholding. By using this tool, which the IRS says is mobile-friendly and uses plain language, employees "can more easily account for higher marginal tax brackets where both spouses work, additional income, and credits and deductions, and predict a tax refund or amount owed, as well as align their withholding as closely as possible to their actual tax obligation," Barber noted.

    It's especially important to use the estimator, the IRS advised, if an employee:

    • Faced an unexpected tax bill or a penalty after filing a tax return last year.
    • Has or will experience a change in marital status, dependents, income or jobs this year.

    Said the American Payroll Association's Alice Jacobsohn, "For employees starting a new job in 2020 or whose tax situation has changed, using the IRS's Tax Withholding Estimator is a smart way to figure out their taxes and complete the form."

    Related SHRM Articles:

    2020 Payroll Taxes Will Hit Higher IncomesSHRM Online, October 2019

    IRS Issues Draft Form W-4 Overhaul for 2020SHRM Online, June 2019

    At Tax Time, Urge Review of Paycheck Withholding and Retirement SavingsSHRM Online, January 2019


    New Overtime Rule Raises Salary Cut-Off to $35,568

    By Lisa Nagele-Piazza, J.D., SHRM-SCPSeptember 24, 2019

    Employees who make less than $35,568 are now eligible for overtime pay under a final rule issued today by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). The new rate will take effect Jan. 1, 2020.

    To be exempt from overtime under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), employees must be paid a salary of at least the threshold amount and meet certain duties tests. If they are paid less or do not meet the tests, they must be paid 1 1/2 times their regular hourly rate for hours worked in excess of 40 in a workweek.

    The new rule will raise the salary threshold to $684 a week ($35,568 annualized) from $455 a week ($23,660 annualized). A blocked Obama-era rule would have doubled the threshold, but a federal judge held that the DOL exceeded its authority by raising the rate too high.

    The new rule is expected to prompt employers to reclassify more than a million currently exempt workers to nonexempt status and raise pay for others above the new threshold. 

    The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) is pleased that the DOL has finalized the overtime rule. "Employees and employers have been waiting for an overtime salary adjustment for over 10 years," said Nancy Hammer, SHRM's vice president of regulatory and judicial engagement. "Today's rule provides important clarity for the workplace on FLSA implementation," she said.

    Here's what employers need to know about the new rule.

    The Details

    Under the new rule, nondiscretionary bonuses and incentive payments (including commissions) paid on an annual or more frequent basis may be used to satisfy up to 10 percent of the standard salary level.

    In addition to raising the salary cutoff for exempt workers, the new rule raises the threshold for highly compensated employees from $100,000 a year to $107,432 (of which $684 must be paid weekly on a salary or fee basis). The increase is about $40,000 less than what the DOL initially proposed because it is based on the 80th percentile, rather than the 90th percentile, of all full-time salaried workers' earnings nationwide.

    For the FLSA's executive, administrative and professional exemptions—the so-called white-collar exemptions—employees must perform certain duties and earn at least the salary threshold. But under a special rule, highly compensated employees are eligible for exempt status if they meet a reduced duties test as follows:

    • The employee's primary duty must be office or nonmanual work.
    • The employee must "customarily and regularly" perform at least one of the bona fide exempt duties of an executive, administrative or professional employee.

    Employers should note that the rule doesn't make any changes to the duties tests.

    Also, unlike the overtime rule that President Barack Obama's administration put forward in 2016, the new rule doesn't include automatic adjustments to the exempt salary threshold.

    The Obama administration sought to automatically adjust the threshold every three years to represent the 40th percentile of earnings for full-time salaried workers in the lowest-wage census region.

    Employers likely will be pleased that the new rule doesn't call for automatic adjustments to the salary threshold, as many believe the marketplace—rather than the federal government—should dictate appropriate salary levels, said Josh Woodard, an attorney with Snell & Wilmer in Phoenix. 

    However, the DOL "intends to update these thresholds more regularly in the future," according to the final rule.

    Review Job Descriptions and Budgets

    Employers should immediately pull data for exempt workers earning below the threshold, attorneys said.

    "Review your budgets, consider what positions you might restructure, flag whom you might reclassify to nonexempt or give a salary increase, and think about when, practically speaking, you should implement changes," said Caroline Brown, an attorney with Fisher Phillips in Atlanta.

    Román D. Hernández, an attorney with Troutman Sanders in Portland, Ore., said employers should forecast financial ramifications for changes in labor costs necessitated by changes in the rules.

    Employers also should weigh the cost of raising employee salaries above the new threshold against the cost of reclassifying employees as nonexempt and paying overtime, he said. "That is an individual workforce determination that should be made in consultation with HR professionals and outside counsel to ensure compliance with the new rules."

    Meeting the salary cutoff is just one requirement for classifying workers as exempt. Employers should also take the time to review workers' job duties to ensure that they satisfy the applicable exemption's criteria.

    The white-collar exemptions each have slightly different duties tests:

    • Executive exemption. The employee's primary duty must be managing the enterprise or a department or subdivision of the enterprise. The employee must customarily and regularly direct the work of at least two employees and have the authority to hire or fire workers (or the employee's suggestions and recommendations as to hiring, firing or changing the status of other employees must be given particular weight).
    • Administrative exemption. The employee's primary duty must be office or nonmanual work that is directly related to the management or general business operations of the employer or the employer's customers. The employee's primary duty also must include the exercise of discretion and independent judgment with respect to matters of significance.
    • Professional exemption. The employee's primary duty must be work requiring advanced knowledge in a field of science or learning that is customarily acquired by prolonged, specialized, intellectual instruction and study.

    Although the changes to the overtime rule are all about salary, the upcoming adjustments provide a good opportunity for employers to look at the job duties for their lowest exempt pay bands and make sure they actually qualify, said Tammy McCutchen, an attorney with Littler in Washington, D.C. "It's a great time to correct errors on the job-duties side."

    [SHRM members-only toolkit: Determining Overtime Eligibility in the United States]

    Hernández noted that, in general, it's a good idea for employers to periodically review job descriptions and ensure that they are up-to-date and accurate.

    Develop a Training and Communication Strategy

    If employers decide to reclassify employees to nonexempt status, they will need to track affected workers' work time and pay overtime premiums for all hours worked beyond 40 in a workweek.

    Employers will need to develop a communication strategy and make sure that reclassified employees know they are not being demoted, McCutchen said. Be clear that these changes are based on new government rules.

    In addition, employees who will be required to track their hours for the first time—as well as their managers—will need training on time-keeping procedures, she added.

    Employers should evaluate their systems for time-keeping, tracking overtime and paying bonuses, Hernández said. They should also develop plans and procedures to manage or limit overtime hours worked by newly nonexempt workers, he suggested.

    Brown noted that taking some initial steps sooner rather than later can go a long way toward triaging potential issues and creating a smoother transition plan.

    [Visit SHRM's resource page on the FLSA Overtime Rule.]


    Employers cannot ask applicants about salary history under changes to state law

    July 25, 2019                                                                                                    #19-019

    TUMWATER — Changes to Washington’s Equal Pay and Opportunities Act will add additional protections for employees and job applicants. The updated law that takes effect on July 28 bars employers from requesting a job applicant’s wage or salary history, except under certain circumstances.

    The law also makes it illegal, in most cases, for employers to request wage or salary history from a previous employer before offering an applicant a job and negotiating salary.

    Washington is the third West Coast state to pass legislation prohibiting such inquiries, joining California and Oregon.

    "Washington is consistently ranked a top state to work and to do business," Governor Jay Inslee said. "Our commitment to ensuring prosperity is shared by everyone is key to that success. Yet, for too long, wage disparities have continued between individuals doing equal work. The protections established in this law are the next step toward finally leveling the playing field."

    Equal pay for equal work

    Under the changes, current employees who are offered an internal transfer, a new position or a promotion must be shown the new job’s wage scale or salary range if they request it.

    If no wage scale or salary range exists, the employer must show the employee “the minimum wage or salary expectation” that was set before the job was posted or a transfer or promotion was offered.

    Employers must also show job applicants the minimum wage or salary of the position they are applying for if they request it after being offered the position.

    The ban on requesting salary history applies to all Washington employers, regardless of size. The requirement to disclose salary information to certain applicants and employees applies only to Washington employers with 15 or more workers.

    “A gender pay gap is simply unacceptable; people should expect equal pay for equal work,” said L&I Director Joel Sacks. “Employees and job applicants will now have access to more information about how much jobs pay, and greater protections to make sure they’re being paid fairly.”

    The Washington State Legislature updated the state’s pay equity law in 2018 with passage of the Equal Pay and Opportunities Act that prohibits gender pay discrimination and promotes fairness among workers by addressing business practices that contribute to gender pay gaps. The most recent updates were passed during the 2019 session.

    Rights for both current employees and job applicants

    If employees or job applicants believe their rights have been violated, they can file a complaint with the state Department of Labor & Industries (L&I).

    Employees can file a complaint if their current or former employer has:

    • Provided them with unequal compensation compared to other employees who are similarly employed, based on gender.
    • Limited or denied their career advancement opportunities, based on gender.
    • Prohibited them from discussing wages.
    • Not provided wage or salary information for a new position upon request.
    • Retaliated against them for filing a complaint or exercising protected rights under the Equal Pay and Opportunities Act.

    Job applicants can file a complaint if an employer has:

    • Sought their wage or salary history.
    • Required that their wage or salary history meet certain criteria — such as requiring a minimum salary amount in a previous position to apply for a new position.
    • Not provided minimum wage or salary information upon request for a position offered to them.

    L&I recommends that Washington employers review job applications and other hiring documentation to confirm that any requests for or references to job applicants’ salary history are removed. Employers should also ensure they can provide specific information about the minimum wages or salaries, or wage scales or salary ranges to applicants and employees upon request. 

    To file a complaint, go to www.Lni.wa.gov/EqualPay. For more information, contact L&I’s Employment Standards Program at 1-866-219-7321.


    Washington State Proposal Would Radically Increase Exempt Salary Threshold

    By Dan Thieme and Will Kim © LittlerJune 17, 2019

    On June 5, the Washington Department of Labor and Industries issued proposed amendments to the state's white-collar overtime exemption regulations.

    Both under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and the Washington state law, employers generally must pay exempt employees a salary of a specified minimum amount, and the employees must perform exempt duties. 

    If adopted and not successfully challenged in court, the proposed amendments would increase the minimum salary level necessary for most exemptions to apply in Washington to an initial rate of $49,140 a year effective July 1, 2020 ($35,100 a year for employers with 50 or fewer employees in Washington), which will ramp up to $70,200 a year, plus consumer price index (CPI) adjustments, for all employers effective Jan. 1, 2026. 

    For the exemption applicable to computer professionals, which both the federal and state laws permit to be paid by the hour instead of via salary, the minimum for employees paid hourly would increase to $37.13 an hour, effective July 1, 2020, and for employers with more than 50 employees in Washington, the rate will rise to $47.25 an hour, plus CPI adjustments, for all employers effective Jan. 1, 2022.

    The proposed amendments would also amend the duties tests under Washington state law to conform to the federal FLSA duties tests, except that the amendments would continue to leave Washington without a highly compensated employee exemption.

    Proposed Thresholds for Exempt Status

    For the executive, administrative and professional exemptions, the proposed minimum salary basis and fee basis rates are:

    Date

    Minimum Salary/Fee Rate

    (More than 50 Washington Employees)

    Minimum Salary/Fee Rate

    (50 or Fewer Washington Employees)

    July 1, 2020

    $49,140/year

    (The new rate currently being proposed under the FLSA is $35,308/year)

    $35,100/year

    (The new rate currently being proposed under the FLSA is $35,308/year)

    January 1, 2021

    $56,160/year + CPI adjustment

    $49,140/year + CPI adjustment

    January 1, 2022

    $63,180/year + CPI adjustment

    $56,160/year + CPI adjustment

    January 1, 2023

    $63,180/year + CPI adjustment

    $63,180/year + CPI adjustment

    January 1, 2024

    $63,180/year + CPI adjustment

    $63,180/year + CPI adjustment

    January 1, 2025

    $70,200/year + CPI adjustment

    $63,180/year + CPI adjustment

    January 1, 2026

    $70,220/year + CPI adjustment

    $70,220/year + CPI adjustment

    For the hourly computer professional exemption, the proposed minimum hourly rates are:

    Date

    Minimum Hourly Rate

    (More than 50 Washington Employees)

    Minimum Hourly Rate

    (50 or Fewer Washington Employees)

    July 1, 2020

    $37.13/hour

    (vs. the FLSA rate of $27.63/hour)

    $27.63/hour

    (matches the current Washington and FLSA rates)

    January 1, 2021

    $47.25/hour + CPI adjustment

    $37.13/hour + CPI adjustment

    January 1, 2022

    $47.25/hour + CPI adjustment

    $47.25/hour + CPI adjustment

    For the outside sales exemption that is available under both the FLSA and Washington state law, there would continue to be no minimum pay rate under the FLSA or Washington state law. The proposed amendments would retain a unique Washington requirement, however, that outside salespeople be compensated on a guaranteed salary, commission or fee basis and be advised of their status as outside sales employees.

    For the professional exemption for teachers, the proposed amendments would require payment on a salary or fee basis, but without mandating a minimum pay rate. The FLSA does not specify a form or minimum amount of payment for exempt teachers.

    Proposed Changes to the Duties Tests

    The proposed amendments would amend the Washington duties tests to bring the state regulations into conformity with the revised duties tests adopted under the FLSA in 2004. As already noted, however, the proposed amendments would continue to leave Washington without a highly compensated employee exemption.

    Deadline for Comments

    Comments on the proposed rule amendments are due by Sept. 6. The proposal has a projected adoption date of Dec. 3.

    Dan Thieme and Will Kim are attorneys with Littler in Seattle. © 2019 Littler. All rights reserved. Reposted with permission. 


    EEO-1 Pay Data Reports Due Sept. 30

    The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) told a federal judge 4/3/2019 that it will require employers to turn over pay data, broken down by race, gender and ethnicity, by Sept. 30. EEOC Acting Chair Victoria Lipnic extended the reporting deadline “to accommodate the significant practical challenges” for the agency to collect the pay data, according to a document filed with the court.


    Bill to strengthen Paid Family and Medical Leave program signed into law

     

    OLYMPIA - A bill to provide updates to Washington’s new Paid Family and Medical Leave program was signed into law by Gov. Jay Inslee on Wednesday. House Bill 1399 makes several technical corrections to the new program, and clarifies a key provision related to supplementing wages while an employee is out on leave. The Employment Security Department operates the program.

    “Our Paid Family and Medical Leave program is the best in the nation and was developed to work for both employers and employees – this bill only enhances that,” said Employment Security Commissioner, Suzi LeVine. “By allowing employers the option to supplement an employee’s Paid Family and Medical Leave benefit with other paid leave, many workers won’t be faced with losing income while taking care of themselves or a family member in a critical or challenging time of their lives.”

    The bill, sponsored by Rep. June Robinson, D-Everett, passed with wide bipartisan support and with no opposition from stakeholders in Senate or House committees. More information about Paid Family and Medical Leave can be found at paidleave.wa.gov.


    First Quarter 2019: Washington Paid Family and Medical Leave Insurance Premium Payments and Reporting

    www.paidleave.wa.gov.

    The Washington Employment Security Department (ESD) announced that the deadline for submitting first quarter payments and reports for the Washington Paid Family and Medical Leave premiums has been delayed. The first quarter of 2019 premium payments and reports will be due by July 31, 2019.

    Information about the new timeline and related requirements is available at https://www.paidleave.wa.gov/employers. A copy of the official announcement is available at https://content.govdelivery.com/accounts/WAESD/bulletins/2361e30

    What you need to know.

    • Separate reports and payments for the first and second quarters of 2019 are due by July 31, 2019. This change is for 2019 only.
    • The ESD will not assess fines or penalties for reporting and remitting the first quarter by July 31, 2019.
    • Eligibility for the 2019 Small Business Exemption from employer Medical Leave Insurance premiums will still be determined using the first quarter reporting.
    • Paid Family and Medical Leave Benefits will continue to be available to eligible employees on January 1, 2020.

    Image depicts a woman worker in an ice cream shop and the Paid Family and Medical Leave wordmark

    Image depicts the timeline of phase four rulemaking

    We filed the formal proposed rules (CR102) for phase four of Paid Family and Medical Leave rulemaking.

    Phase four covers:

    • Continuation of benefits
    • Fraud

    Filing the CR102 opens the formal comment period on this phase of rules. The preliminary draft of our required significance analysis is also available for public comment.

    The rulemaking hearings for phase four will be on May 22 and May 29, 2019. Hearing details, including the agenda and remote participation information, are posted on the meetings page of our public comment portal.

    You can participate in rulemaking by:

    • Attending a public hearing (either in-person or remotely) to provide oral comments. Visit the meetings page of our public comment portal for participation details.
    • Submitting written comments on our public comment portal. Comments will be accepted online until 5:00 p.m. on May 29.

    Phase two rules post-adoption notice

    On December 3, 2018, new rules related to phase two of the Paid Family and Medical Leave program took effect. The rules provide guidance on:

    1. Employer Responsibilities;
    2. Small business assistance;
    3. Penalties;
    4. Certain aspects of voluntary plans; and
    5. Other topics to implement the program.

    Because of these rules, many advances are being made to help employers and employees navigate our program requirements. Several high-level updates are below to help employers plan and prepare.

    System updates based on phase two rules:

    • Employer responsibilities, penalties, and audits: The system is designed to accept wage reports, collect premium payments, and assess penalties for incomplete and untimely report filing. Small employers will also be able to contribute payment for the medical portion of premiums and to apply for grants online once employees begin receiving benefits in 2020.
    • Notice: We are working to have the notice to employee and common area program notifications available by the end of 2019.
    • Voluntary plans: Employers can now apply for a voluntary plan and remit the $250 application fee through paidleave.wa.gov/voluntary-plans.

    Our communications team is rolling out employer information to customers as the program develops. If you have questions about implementing these rules or need more information, please email paidleave@esd.wa.gov.

    Any person may petition the agency to initiate a change in rule. Petitions can be found on the Office of Financial Management’s website. Completed forms can be submitted electronically to Rules@esd.wa.gov.

    This communication constitutes the post-adoption notice required by RCW 34.05.362.

    In case you missed it: Q1 reporting deadline changed to July 31

    Image depicts timeline of program implementation

    On March 13, Paid Family and Medical Leave announced that the reporting timeline for the first quarter of 2019 has been changed to July 2019. 

    • Beginning July 1, employers will submit both Q1 and Q2 reports and premium payments through our online customer management system.
    • This timeline extension will not affect the availability of benefits. Eligible employees can begin applying for benefits in January 2020.

    For more information:

    paidleave.wa.gov


     

    Paid Family and Medical Leave has arrived!

    Posted on behalf of the Washington State Employment Security Department

    In 2018:

    • Close to 1 million pieces of direct mail were sent to employers.
    • ESD presented at more than 260 events across the state.
    • Had 6,739,408 impressions from our ads between the end of Oct. through mid-Dec.
    • Had more than 150,000 visitors to www.paidleave.wa.gov in Dec. alone.

    Get ready to be there for care.

    Since Nov. 30, we've sent out one email per week to over 630,000 employers in Washington outlining what they need to do on Jan. 1, 2019.

    Each of the emails are posted in the Newsroom on our website. 

    Nov. 30, 2018: Important info for your business: New program starts 1/1/2019

    Dec. 6, 2018: Paid Family and Medical Leave premium collection starts 1/1/2019

    Dec. 13, 2018: Start tracking hours and wages on Jan. 1, 2019

    Dec. 20, 2018: Let your employees know about the premium deduction coming on Jan. 1, 2019

    Dec. 28, 2018: Final Reminder! Premium deduction coming on Jan. 1, 2019

    If you haven’t already, now is a great time to download our employer toolkit and review our Employer Page for details about premium collection that started on Jan.1.

    Rulemaking update

    Phase 3 CR-102 Filed

    ESD filed the formal proposed rules (CR-102) for phase 3 of Paid Family and Medical Leave rulemaking.

    Phase Three covers:

    • Benefit applications
    • Benefit eligibility

    Filing the CR-102 opens the formal comment period on this phase of rules. The preliminary draft of our required significance analysis is also available for public comment.

    The rulemaking hearings for Phase Three will be on 3/13/2019 and 3/18/2019. Hearing details, including the agenda and remote participation information, are posted on the meetings page of our public comment portal.

    You can participate in rulemaking by:

    • Attending the public hearing (either in-person or remotely) on 3/13/2019 or 3/18/2019 to provide oral comments.
    • Submitting written comments on our public comment portal. Comments will be accepted online until 5:00 PM on 3/18/2019.

    Phase 5 CR-101 Filed

    ESD filed the preproposal statement of inquiry (CR-101) for the phase 5 of Paid Family and Medical Leave rulemaking.

    Phase 5 covers:

    • Job Protection
    • Benefit Overpayments
    • Miscellaneous

    The CR-101 announces that an agency is planning to write rules on a subject and invites the public to take part in the rulemaking process by submitting ideas or comments about how the rules should be drafted.

    Following the CR-101, ESD holds a public listening session to gather stakeholder input on draft rules. We strongly encourage public participation. The first listening session for Phase 5 will be at 9:00 AM on 1/11/2019 in our Lacey office. Listening session details, including the agenda and remote participation information, are forthcoming on the meetings page of our public comment portal.


    County unemployment numbers for November 2018 released today

    OLYMPIA – County unemployment rates and employment data for November 2018 are now available online. Use the historical estimates report  to view prior months’ data.

    Please keep in mind:  Unemployment rates at the county level are not seasonally adjusted because the sample size is too small to accommodate that additional analysis. Therefore, they should not be compared directly to the seasonally adjusted statewide rate that we announced last week (Monthly employment report)

    ESD has labor market information and tools, including a video tutorial to showcase popular information and data.

    Labor area summaries: https://esd.wa.gov/labormarketinfo/labor-area-summaries


    New Minimum Wage - $12 per hour - January 1, 2019

    Minimum wage climbs to $12 in 2019 as mandated by voter-approved initiative

    The minimum wage in Washington will increase to $12 per hour starting Jan. 1, 2019, for workers age 16 and older.

    The Washington State Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) enforces the state's wage-and-hour laws, which includes the minimum wage. The state minimum wage applies to most jobs, including those in agriculture.

    Under state law, tips do not count toward a worker’s minimum wage. Also, employers can pay workers under 16 years old 85 percent of the minimum wage. For 2019, that comes out to $10.20 per hour.

    The cities of Sea-Tac, Seattle, and Tacoma have their own minimum wage rates. Check with those cities for specific information.

    When Initiative 1433 passed in the fall of 2016, it set a schedule for Washington’s minimum wage over a four-year period. As a result, in 2020 the state minimum wage will climb to $13.50. For the following year, L&I will calculate the minimum wage by using a formula tied to the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers.

    Complete information about the minimum wage is available on L&I’s website (Lni.wa.gov), including details about handling overtime, rest breaks and meals. There’s also a minimum wage announcement online that employers can print off and post.

    L&I investigates all wage-payment complaints. More information about wage and hour laws and workplace right is available on L&I's webpage. Employers and workers may also call 360-902-5316 or 1-866-219-7321.


    Click here for a Monthly Employment Report for July- August for WA. It shows the trends in a chart from 2011 indicating the decrease to date. 

    For additional summaries:

    ESD has labor market information and tools to showcase popular information and data.
    Labor area summaries: https://esd.wa.gov/labormarketinfo/labor-area-summaries


    Phase 3 of WA State Paid Family and Medical Leave rulemaking begins

    Phase 3 Rulemaking Timeline

    The third phase of rulemaking is set to begin in August following the filing of the CR101.

    This phase of rules is the first of three related to paid family and medical leave benefits. It covers:

    • Benefit applications
    • Benefit eligibility

    Please join us to share your thoughts at the listening session at 9 a.m. on Aug. 9 in Lacey

    WHEN: August 9, 2018 | 9 a.m.

    WHERE: Employment Security Department | 640 Woodland Square Loop | Lacey, Washington


    Paid Family and Medical Leave Infographic

    Shareable resources

    Help us spread the news about Paid Family & Medical Leave by sharing these resources with your networks!


    How do you make a rule?

    If you're curious about rulemaking in general, you can find information on the department's process on our rulemaking webpage.

    For information specific to the Paid Family & Medical Leave rules, including timelines for each phase of the process (there are four), visit our public comment portal.


    HR Day on the Hill
    February 1, 2018
    Attendees from Mt Baker Chapter: Robert, Edie, Shannon, and Harneet
    (the following notes written by Harneet)


    Thank you for sponsoring us to attend HR Day on the Hill, personally it was my first time attending and visiting the State Capital.

    There were a number of speakers opening with Meredith Nethercutt, a SHRM associate who resides in Washington DC, basically going over the importance of why HR professionals should be involved in legislative matters as well make encouraging a cognitive effort to have presence with their local representatives, as that we do have an influence in legislative matters.

    Randy Littlefield from Department of Labor and Industries spoke, primarily focusing on Workers Compensation and the Abuse that occurs. He provided recent examples of high profile cases that occurred recently within EX law enforcement. Randy provided important steps on how to document a claim properly.

    Kara Craig, an Attorney from the law firm Vigilant, covered the recent movement of the “Me Too” era. She shared examples of sexual harassment claims that are in the media as well from cases she is representing. Stressing the importance of this subject doesn’t matter size of organization, bottom line listen to all claims let voices be heard, and investigate if necessary. Take away - training, training and training - now is the time to educate managers and staff. We want to ensure that our organization has taken action to be preventative.

    Bob Battles who is the Director of Government Affairs from the Association of Washington Business is the one speaker that addressed current bills that are being proposed.  However there is no concreate update to report that I can share for certain that is going to take place because no new bill has been passed.

    The following bills are in legislative that we think that you may find interesting and want to be aware of:

    SHB 1298 / SB 6110 – Statewide Ban the Box currently this is only in Seattle. But we think either this bill or something similar will pass in our state soon

    SB 5996 – Banning Non-Disclosure Agreements as part of pre-employment job offers. NDAs would still be ok in cases of harassment after claim have been made. Bob Battles said this one will likely pass. Might affect some businesses that automatically do NDAs as part of onboarding

    HB 1301 / SB 5528 – Wage & Hour Anti-retaliation. Would create a 90 day protection window after any complaints or questions are made regarding pay. Employee complains about something regarding their pay… can’t fire them for any reason within 90 days or viewed as retaliation. Unsure if this will pass.

    Please visit the following website to look up a bill, it is an awesome resource! http://apps.leg.wa.gov/billinfo/  


    Here are some helpful tips for making a difference in the state legislative process:

    To find contact information for your current legislators, including email addresses and web addresses, click here.

    • Take a few moments to customize your email or letter because form letters are not given as much attention.
    • Keep your written correspondence brief. Legislators don't have time to wade through lengthy messages. If you don't receive a response from your legislator within 10-15 days, send your correspondence again. They may not have received your original message.

    If you have questions or would like to know how the Mt. Baker Chapter participates in the legislative process, please feel free to email our Legislative Liaison, Harneet Sihota, at Legislative.mtbakershrm@gmail.com.