New exemptions were added during the 2022 legislative session for workers that are not likely to use their WA Cares benefits in the future. The exemptions include people who work in Washington or for Washington employers but live outside the state and workers with non-immigrant visas (H-2A workers would fall into this category.)
Beginning January 1, 2023, Washington workers will be eligible for exemptions from WA Cares if any of the following apply to them:
a. Live outside of Washington.
b. Are the spouse or registered domestic partner of an active-duty service member of the United States armed forces.
c. Have non-immigrant work visas.
d. Are veterans with a 70% service-connected disability rating or higher.
Workers will no longer qualify for an exemption if:
a. They change their permanent residence to within Washington.
b. Their immigration status changes, and they become a permanent resident.
c. Their spouse is separated from military service, or the marriage/partnership is dissolved.
Note: Veterans with a 70% service-connected disability rating or higher will receive a permanent exemption.
It is the employee’s responsibility to notify their employer of any changes to their exemption status. Failure to do so can result in required back-payment of premiums and additional penalties.
How to Apply for an Exemption
Employees must file an application for an exemption; employers can’t automatically opt-out employees.
Exemption applications may only be filed online here:
Steps for employees to apply for an exemption:
- Go to SecureAccess Washington (SAW) and create an account or log in.
- Select Paid Family and Medical Leave from the list of services.
- Click Continue to proceed to create a WA Cares Exemption account.
- On the Create an Account page, select Apply for a WA Cares Exemption.
Note: Certain documents will need to be verified when you submit your exemption application.
ESD will then review an employee’s application and notify them if they’re eligible for an exemption from WA Cares coverage.
The employee will get an exemption approval letter from ESD, at which point they’ll be required to present their exemption approval letter to all current and future employers. If they fail to present their ESD approval letter, employers should withhold non-refundable WA Cares premiums.
Exemptions will take effect the quarter after an application is approved.
What to do When You Receive Notice of an Employee’s Exemption
Once notified of an employee’s exemption, employers must keep a copy of the employee’s approval letter on file, and they must not deduct WA Cares premiums from exempt workers.
When do Exemptions Become Effective?
Since exemptions take effect the quarter after an application is approved, employers will need to wait to check the LTC Exempt box until the quarter after an exemption letter is presented to the employer by the employee. Approval letters provided by ESD will list an effective date.
Notifying Employees of Important Information
Current employees who qualify should plan to get their applications submitted as soon as possible if they don’t want the LTC tax withheld on their checks starting July 1. Employers may want to notify employees of this deadline. In addition, onboarding for H-2A employees should probably include instructions for new H-2A workers to apply for an exemption.