This post will guide you through employee leave laws for businesses and workers located in the state of Washington.
Follow this guide to understand employers’ obligations for vacation time, paid time off (PTO), sick leave, parental leave, bereavement and more, along with state holidays observed in Washington.
This page is intended for reference purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Please see official government sources or consult a legal professional for actual legal advice.
Employers in Washington are not required to provide paid or unpaid vacation time.
Washington leave laws do not address Use It or Lose It policies, meaning employers are free to enact Use It or Lose It for vacation time if they wish.
Payout of unused PTO upon separation is not required by law in Washington. Employers are only required to pay out unused PTO (vacation, sick leave or similar benefits) if their company policy states as such.
Washington’s Paid Sick Leave law grants all employees one hour of paid sick leave for every 40 hours worked.
Employees can carry over up to 40 hours of unused sick leave from one year to the next.
Paid sick leave can be used for:
In addition, Washington’s Paid Family and Medical Leave law provides up to 12 weeks a year of paid medical leave for serious health conditions, including:
If an employee is not eligible for medical leave under Washington law, they may still be eligible under the nationwide Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which entitles eligible employees the right to take 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave for serious health conditions, or to care for spouses, children or parents with a serious health condition.
The following official state holidays are observed in Washington:
|January 1||New Year’s Day|
|3rd Monday in January||Martin Luther King, Jr. Day|
|3rd Monday in February||President’s Day|
|Last Monday in May||Memorial Day|
|June 19||Juneteenth National Independence Day|
|July 4||Independence Day|
|1st Monday in September||Labor Day|
|November 11||Veterans Day|
|4th Thursday in November||Thanksgiving Day|
|Day after Thanksgiving||Native American Heritage Day|
There is no requirement to allow employees a paid or unpaid day off for state holidays, and employees required to work on state holidays are not legally entitled to extra compensation (such as higher pay or a compensatory day off), unless promised in their employment contract.
Maternity leave in Washington is covered under the Washington Paid Family and Medical Leave law.
Eligible employees are entitled to up to 12 weeks per year of paid leave to bond with their new baby or child.
This may extend to 16 or 18 weeks if the employee experiences a health condition or complication as part of their pregnancy.
Employees receive 90% of their regular paycheck when on Medical/Family Leave, jointly funded by their employer and the state.
As with medical leave, the FMLA may apply, entitling new mothers to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave for the birth of a new child, as well as the placement of a new adoption or foster.
Employees may use both Washington and Federal Family Leave – so a new mother may be entitled to 12 weeks of paid leave, followed by 12 weeks of unpaid leave.
Fathers have the same right to take leave to care or bond for their child, under both the FMLA and Washington Paid Family and Medical Leave law.
Washington Paid Family and Medical Leave also covers the death of a family member, entitling the employee to take paid time off in the seven calendar days following the death.
Paid leave for jury duty is not required in Washington.
Paid or unpaid voting leave is not required in Washington.
Federal Law (the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA)) applies in Washington, which states that military service members receive up to five years of unpaid leave for military service, and upon returning, must be reinstated to the same position (or an equivalent position) as they had before their leave.
Anything not covered in Washington state leave laws is up to the discretion of the employer, such as whether or not to provide paid sick leave or PTO, or whether PTO rolls over from year to year.
However, if any benefits are laid out in an employee’s contract or company policy, employers must comply with what has been agreed in that document.
For example, if an employee’s contract states that they are to receive 12 days of PTO each year, the employer is legally required to provide this, even though paid time off is not required by state law.