Welcome to the Office of the Paid Family and Medical Leave Ombuds

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)


Can the Ombuds represent me in court or an administrative hearing?
No, the Ombuds is not an advocate and does not provide legal advice or legal services.


What if I have a problem that the Ombuds does not handle; who do I contact?
A list of legal service providers and state agencies can be found on our resources page.


What kinds of complaints does the Ombuds investigate?
The Ombuds investigates complaints about the Paid Family and Medical Insurance program.


What can the Ombuds do about my complaint?
The Ombuds Office is a neutral, objective investigator. Once we determine the facts, we attempt to find an informal solution.


Are complaints to the Ombuds confidential?
Yes. We will not disclose the identity of persons who have filed a complaint with us without their permission, unless required by law.


Can I file an anonymous complaint?
When you make a complaint to the Ombuds, you must provide your name and contact information. However, the Ombuds will keep your name confidential if that is what you want. If it is not possible to investigate the complaint AND keep your name confidential, the Ombuds may have to decline the investigation. You will be able to discuss this decision with the Ombuds investigator and decide whether you want your complaint investigated.


Can I make a complaint for someone else?
Only if you have a power of attorney or other authority to act on that person’s behalf (parent, legal guardian, etc.).


Can my employer take money out of my paycheck for Paid Family and Medical Leave premiums?
Yes. Paid Family and Medical Leave is an insurance program funded through premiums paid by nearly everyone working in Washington and many of their employers. The rate for 2019 is 0.4% of a worker’s wage, about 63% of which is paid by the worker and about 37% is paid by the employer. Employers can choose to cover some or all of their employee’s premiums. Premium collection began on January 1, 2019. 

To estimate your premium, visit paidleave.wa.gov/workers and use their premium calculator.

An employer may not deduct more than the maximum allowable employee share of the premium per paycheck. If an employer does not deduct the maximum allowable employee share of the premium from wages paid for a pay period, the employer is considered to have elected to pay that portion of the employee’s share of the premium. See WAC 192-510-065.


How does an investigation work?
Ombuds investigators collect and review information and evidence from the person making the complaint, witnesses, Department of Employment Security staff, and other sources. They also review relevant laws, regulations, policies and procedures.

Once all the information and evidence is collected and analyzed, the Ombuds investigators determine what happened based on the “preponderance of the evidence standard” (more likely than not). If the allegations in the complaint are found to be justified, the Ombuds will make recommendation to the Department for how the complaint can be resolved.


Can the Ombuds force the Department of Employment Security to do something?
No. The Ombuds has no direct enforcement power. However, the Ombuds can work to persuade the Department to adopt its recommendations.