Retirement service credit and Paid Family Medical Leave

Posted 30-Dec-2019

With the upcoming launch of Washington’s new Paid Family Medical Leave Program (PFML) on January 1, DRS is being asked whether members of the state’s retirement systems will earn service credit if they are participating in the program.

In short, the answer is no – retirement system members will not receive service credit while on leave under PFML.

PFML participants will receive payments from the Employment Security Department, not from their employer. As such, PMFL is considered an unpaid, authorized leave of absence with no wages or hours reported to DRS (similar to what occurs when an employee receives workers’ compensation benefits from the Department of Labor & Industries).

State law allows retirement system members to purchase back up to two years of service credit for an unpaid leave of absence authorized by their employer. To restore service credit, employees must:

  • Return to work in a DRS retirement system-covered position
  • Pay their contributions with interest as well as their employer’s contributions with interest for the period of time on leave

Payment must be completed within five years of returning to employment or before retirement, whichever comes first. Additional details are available in the DRS publication Recovery of Withdrawn or Optional Service Credit for Plan 1, Plan 2 and Plan 3

Employees who have questions about PFML and authorized leave of absence provisions should talk with their employer or contact DRS.

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