On January 27, 2022, Washington Governor Jay Inslee signed House Bills 1732 and 1733, delaying and amending the Washington Cares Act (WA Cares). The bills delay the obligation to withhold WA Cares employee premiums, now set to begin on July 1, 2023, and require employers to refund employees for any WA Cares premiums that have already been collected within 120 days of withholding. The delay, and the refund mandate, are effective immediately.
HOUSE BILL 1733
- Employer must collect from the employees the premiums through payroll deductions and remit the amounts collected to the employment security department.
- Beginning January 1, 2023, the employment security department shall accept and approve applications for voluntary exemptions from the premium assessment under RCW 50B.04.080 for any employee who meets criteria established by the employment security department for an exemption based on the employee’s status as:
- A veteran of the United States military who has been rated by the United States department of veterans affairs as having a service-connected disability of 70 percent or greater;
- A spouse or registered domestic partner of an active duty service member in the United States armed forces whether or not deployed or stationed within or outside of Washington;
- An employee who holds a non-immigrant visa for temporary workers, as recognized by federal law, and is employed by an employer in Washington; or
- An employee who is employed by an employer in Washington, but maintains a permanent address outside of Washington as the employee’s primary location of residence.
HOUSE BILL 1732
- Starting July 1, 2026, persons born before January 1, 1968 (those currently at least 54 years old) who have paid WA Cares employee premiums for at least one year may receive $3,650 in WA Cares benefits for each year of premium payments;
- Qualified employees who have vested into the Fund and need long-term care can begin receiving WA Cares benefits starting July 1, 2026 (as opposed to January 1, 2025 in the original Act); and
- Other dates related to the WA Cares Act, such as the state’s assessment of the premium rate and the state’s reporting on the program, are also respectively delayed.