Shared Leave for Pregnancy Disability and Parental
Frequently Asked Questions regarding Shared Leave for Pregnancy Disability and Parental for Non-represented Employees
The law authorizing shared leave was amended in 2018 to expand the use of shared leave to employees who are sick or temporarily disabled because of a pregnancy and for the purposes of parental leave. The law also allows an employee to maintain up to 40 hours of vacation leave and 40 hours of sick leave while using shared leave.
Authorizing Sources: RCW 41.04.655, RCW 41.04.665; WAC 357-31-390, WAC 357-31-395, WAC 357-31-405, WAC 357-31-415 and 357-31-435.
Below are common questions regarding implementation of shared leave for purposes of parental leave and pregnancy disability.
- What is parental leave for the purposes of shared leave?
"Parental leave" means leave to bond and care for a newborn child after birth or to bond and care for a child after placement for adoption or foster care, for a period of up to 16 weeks after the birth or placement.
- What is a pregnancy-disability for the purposes of shared leave?
"Pregnancy disability" means a pregnancy-related medical condition or miscarriage. The employer may require medical verification from a licensed physician or health care practitioner to determine what is a pregnancy related condition.
- When does the employee’s request for parental shared leave begin?
If the employee does not have a pregnancy disability for which shared leave is used, the employee may be granted 16 weeks of shared leave for parental reasons beginning at the child’s birth or placement.
- How long does an employee with a pregnancy disability have to use the 16 weeks of parental shared leave if granted?
The employee must use the 16 weeks of shared leave for parental reasons after the pregnancy disability has resolved and within the child’s first year of life.
- If an employee has already used shared leave for pregnancy disability, do they qualify for shared leave to bond and care for a newborn child after birth or placement?
If an employee used shared leave for a pregnancy disability, the employee may also be eligible to receive an additional 16 weeks of shared leave for parental reasons after the pregnancy disability has ended.
Example: An employee is placed on bed rest prior to giving birth for four weeks. The employee then gives birth. The health care provider states the employee is incapacitated due to childbirth for the next six weeks. At the end of the six weeks, the employee may also request additional shared leave for parental leave.
In this example, the employee is eligible to receive shared leave for pregnancy disability for a total of 10 weeks, four weeks before the birth and six weeks after. The employee may begin using an additional 16 weeks of shared leave for parental reasons after the 10 weeks of pregnancy-disability has concluded. The total amount of shared leave used would be 26.
- For non-birth giving parents, when does the employee’s request for parental shared leave begin?
The non-birth parent employee’s 16 weeks of parental shared leave begins immediately after the birth or placement.
- Can an employee request to use parental shared leave intermittently?
If approved for shared leave, the employee may use it intermittently for parental reasons, but use may not extend beyond 16 weeks from the date of the child’s birth or placement or the end of pregnancy disability.
- At the end of the 16 weeks for parental leave, may an employer return any unused shared leave to the donor without a statement from the employee’s licensed physician or health care practitioner?
Yes, an employer may return any unused shared leave to donors without a statement from the employee’s licensed physician or health care practitioner as soon as the 16 weeks for parental leave has concluded.