DRS Email 19-022 Retirement Service Credit and Paid Family Medical Leave

Notice No.: 19-022
Date: Dec. 27, 2019
Applies to: All Employers
Subject: DRS Email 19-022, Retirement Service Credit and Paid Family Medical Leave

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. This is because PFML participants 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 L&I).

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.

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

Employers who have additional questions regarding this notice should contact DRS Employer Support Services at 360-664-7200, option 2, or 800-547-6657, option 6, option 2, or email us.

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