There are several state and federal laws dealing with pregnancy, adoption, and parental leave. These laws allow certain employees to take job-protected leave to care for and bond with a new child, or to respond to pregnancy-related conditions before and after the delivery of a child.

Workplace accommodations for pregnant employees are also available.

To find out what leave an employee is entitled to, first determine what laws apply to your situation. Each law has specific benefits depending on the size of your employer and the medical needs of the employee or their family member.

There are five laws that determine how much pregnancy and parental leave is available to employees in Washington.

How much leave is available?

The tables below provide information about the amount of leave allowed by law, and a brief description of the available leave. Follow the appropriate links for a complete description of each leave program described.

Pregnancy and paternity leave

Employer SizeAmount of Leave AllowedApplicable LawsExceptions and Eligibility
Available to most employees. Up to your accrued paid sick leave balance. Paid Sick Leave (Initiative 1433). Must work for employer greater than 90 days. May be used for qualifying family members for health related care.
Available to all employees. Up to your available paid leave balances under employer’s benefits and policies. Washington Family Care Act. Must be used to provide treatment or supervision for a child with a health condition or care for a qualifying family member with an emergent or serious health condition.
Available to all employees, except:
tribal employees or self-employed individuals who have not opted-in to the Paid Family and Medical Leave program. Federal employees are not eligible.
Beginning Jan. 1, 2020,
up to 12 weeks of medical leave for pregnant women and up to 12 weeks of family leave. Combined leave cannot exceed 16 total weeks, unless there is a
serious, incapacitating health issue related to pregnancy, which adds two more weeks (18 weeks total).
Paid Family Medical Leave Program. You must work 820 hours to be eligible.
You may not be eligible for job-protection if you work for a small employer. See important information below.
Available to employees working for employers with 8 or more employees, except: religious non-profits, tribal employees, and federal government employees. The amount of leave available is determined by your healthcare provider for the period of time you are disabled. This is often referred to as “pregnancy disability leave.” Washington Law Against Discrimination Enforced by Human Rights Commission
800-233-3247
Only available for women with pregnancy-related disability.

Leave for adoptive parents

Employer SizeAmount of Leave AllowedApplicable LawExceptions and Eligibility
Available to all employees. Up to your available paid leave balances under employer’s benefits and policies. Washington Family Care Act. Must be used to provide treatment or supervision for a child with a health condition.
Available to all employees, except:
tribal employees or self-employed individuals who have not opted-in to the program. Federal employees are not eligible.
Beginning Jan. 1, 2020, up to 12 weeks of family leave. Paid Family Medical Leave Program. You must work 820 hours to be eligible.
You may not be eligible for job-protection if you work for a small employer.
50 or more employees within a 75 mile radius of the work site. Up to 12 weeks of leave.  Family and Medical Leave Act Washington Family Leave Act (sunsets Dec. 31, 2019) You must have worked for your employer for 12 months and worked 1,250 hours in the 12 months prior to leave.

Is pregnancy and parental leave paid?

Depending on the applicable law, you may have paid or unpaid leave options, or a combination of both. In general, most new mothers are not entitled to unemployment benefits because they must be able and available to work.

Paid leave options

Paid Family and Medical Leave (starting Jan. 1, 2020)

This leave is available to employees who have worked at least 820 hours for any employer or combination of employers in Washington during the qualifying period. The qualifying period is defined as the first 4 of the last 5 completed calendar quarters, or the 4 completed quarters immediately preceding the application for leave. Federal employees are not eligible.

  • For a pregnant woman, you can receive a combination of:
    • Up to 12 weeks of medical leave, plus an additional 2 weeks for any serious health condition resulting in an incapacity (14 weeks maximum).
    • Up to 12 weeks of family leave to care for a qualifying family member.
    • NOTE: The combination of medical and family leave cannot exceed 16 weeks in a 52-week period, or 18 weeks in a 52-week period in case of a serious health condition resulting in an incapacity.
  • For paternity leave or leave for an adoptive parent, you can receive up to 12 weeks of family leave.

Employees using their Paid Family Medical Leave benefits earn a weekly minimum benefit of $100, up to a maximum of $1,000. There is no waiting period for leave for the birth or placement of a child.

  • Employees earning less than the state average weekly wage receive 90 percent of their normal wage.
  • Employees earning greater than the state average wage earn:
    • 90 percent of their average weekly wage up to fifty percent of the state average weekly wage, plus
    • 50 percent of the employee's average weekly wage that is greater than 50 percent of the state average weekly wage.

Paid Sick Leave

This is available to most employees in Washington regardless of full-time, part-time, or seasonal status. It accrues at a rate of at least 1 hour of paid leave for every 40 hours worked. This leave can be used:

  • For an employee or their qualifying family member for preventive care, or medical reasons.
  • As long as an employee has worked at least 90 days for an employer.

Washington Family Care Act

This act allows the use of available paid leave from an employer to:

  • Provide treatment or supervision for a child with a health condition,
  • Care for a qualifying family member with a serious health condition or emergency condition.

Employer benefits

  • Except for paid sick leave listed above, other paid leave benefits may be available from your employer, and will vary depending on their policies and leave programs.