x
Breaking News
More () »

Seattle's Leading Local News: Weather, Traffic, Sports and More | Seattle, Washington | KING5.com

Too sick to work and waiting on unemployment? You might need paid leave instead

Even if you've already quit your job, you may be eligible for paid family leave in Washington state.

SEATTLE — Some Washington residents cannot go back to work because of an illness or a disability. Turns out, though, some of you are applying for unemployment benefits when you really need to seek paid family leave.

"My husband was diagnosed with a very serious form of cancer," wrote KING 5 viewer Julie Banks. "He was forced to quit his job as a driver. I have filed his claim. We submitted documentation. Unemployment has yet to issue him any form of payment."

Julie said she had filed her husband's unemployment claim on his behalf, but even with a doctor's letter and other documentation, he had not received any payment.

People may think unemployment is the correct program to file under if they've already separated from their jobs, but the Washington Employment Security Department said they likely need to look at the state's Paid Family and Medical Leave program.

Washington state paid leave is an option you can take when you need to take time off to care for yourself or your family. You can take medical leave, family leave or even military leave.

Nearly every Washington worker qualifies for paid leave as long as they work 820 hours, which amounts to about 16 hours a week during the last year. Those hours can be from multiple jobs.

Paid leave is up to 18 weeks long and can be used for an entire year after it starts. You can also apply for “hardship” and request faster processing.

Julie applied for paid family leave and days later received confirmation that her husband would be paid through the end of January 2021.

"I wanted you to know that my husband Howard was fully approved for paid leave," wrote Julie. "Had you not looked into this situation I would have never known to apply for paid leave. Please give this update to people to let them know again that this service is available!"

SEE MORE: Your Money, Your Future

Do you have a question or concern about money during the coronavirus pandemic? Email us at money@king5.com.