March 20, 2023

Volume XIII, Number 79


March 17, 2023

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Washington Governor Clarifies That Employers Are Still ‘Legally Obligated’ to Pay Premiums Under the Washington Cares Act

On December 22, 2021, Governor Jay Inslee sent a letter to Washington’s Employment Security Department (ESD) ordering it to not collect premiums under the Washington Cares Fund program until the legislature addresses some of the law’s issues. The letter acknowledged that “legislative leadership has strongly encouraged the employer community to pause collection of premiums from employees.”

Governor Inslee acknowledged that,

[b]ased on the Legislature’s stated commitment, employers must now choose whether to begin collecting premiums on January 1, 2022 according to the current law, and returning the premiums to workers following a change in the law, or delay collection in anticipation of this legislative change. As you know, if the Legislature fails to change the law, employers will still be legally obligated to pay the full amount owed to your agency.

This letter followed the December 17, 2021, joint statement by Governor Inslee, Senate Majority Leader Andy Billig, and House Speaker Laurie Jinkins announcing that the premium assessment under the Washington Cares Fund would be delayed.

What Does This Mean for Employers With Washington Employees?

On December 23, 2021, Governor Inslee further clarified in a press release that if the legislature fails to change the law, “employers will still be legally obligated to pay the full amount owed to ESD to begin the long-term care program.” He added that “[a]s an employer, the state of Washington is following the law and will have to begin collecting money from state employee paychecks as of January 1st.” Based on this latest clarification, employers are expected to begin long term care premium deductions on January 1, 2022 to avoid potential costs if the legislature fails to amend the law.

© 2023, Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C., All Rights Reserved.National Law Review, Volume XI, Number 363

About this Author

Adam Pankratz, Ogletree Deakins Law Firm, Labor and Employment Litigation Attorney

Mr. Pankratz represents corporations and management in a myriad of employment-related and complex commercial matters, including litigation involving discrimination, retaliation, harassment, wage and hour, wrongful termination, ADA and FMLA leave issues, and other matters in state and federal courts and administrative agencies. Mr. Pankratz has experience successfully representing employers in executive termination, non-compete and unfair competition disputes.  Mr. Pankratz has extensive experience representing employers both locally and nationally on various employment...

Kathryn P. Fletcher Attorney Litigation Employment Ogletree Deakins Seattle
Of Counsel

Ms. Fletcher represents employers in all aspects of employment claims and litigation in federal and state courts, at arbitration, mediation, and before administrative agencies, including matters involving wrongful termination, discrimination, sexual harassment, disability and religious accommodation, retaliation, wage and hour, and breach of contract claims. She has successfully defended cases before the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and the Washington State Court of Appeals.

Ms. Fletcher advises employers on personnel...

Emma A. Healey Attorney Litigation Ogletree Deakins Seattle

Emma received her undergraduate degree in Business Administration from the University of Washington. She went on to graduate with honors from the University of Washington School of Law. During law school, Emma worked as a law clerk for the Washington State Attorney General’s Office and as a judicial extern at the United States District Court in Seattle, Washington for the Honorable John C. Coughenour. Emma was the Executive Online Editor for the Washington Law Review and served as a Hazelton Research Fellow.