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For those who have a private long term care policy in place and want to opt-out of the WA Cares Act, below are instructions on how to do so. The payroll tax officially starts on January 1st 2022 so it is critical that you opt-out before year end. Please keep in mind that once you are opted out, you cannot opt in in the future.


For those who do not have a private long term care policy in place and/or are not looking to opt-out of the WA Cares Act, please disregard these instructions.

1. Create a SecureAccess Washington (SAW) account
Go to secureaccess.wa.gov and click the “SIGN UP” button. After entering your first and last name and your email address, and confirming that you’re not a robot, you should receive an email with a link to activate your account.

2. Once account is active you will need to add “Paid Family and Medical Leave” to your SAW services
Log-in to your SAW account at secureaccess.wa.gov, select “Add A New Service,” then:
• Select “I would like to browse a list of services by agency.”
• Scroll through the list to “Employment Security Department” and select “Paid Family and Medical Leave” from the drop-down menu.
• When you see the confirmation screen that lets you know the service has been added to your list, click “OK”, then select “Paid Family and Medical Leave” from your list of services to access your account.

3. Apply for an exemption
Once you’ve logged in and selected Paid Family and Medical Leave from your list of services in SAW, you’ll click “Continue” to proceed to creating your WA Cares Exemption account. On the “Create an Account” page, select the “Create an Account” button to the right of “WA Cares Exemption.” You will then need to click “Apply for an exemption” and be prompted to fill-out personal information and upload an ID verification. Please note it will not ask you to give any policy information.

4. Wait for ESD approval
ESD will review your application and notify you you’re eligible for an exemption from WA CARES coverage. You will receive an email from “ESD GP Paid Family and Medical Leave” for any update on status. You can also log back in to make sure your application has been submitted under “application status.” That status should change on the home page once it has been approved.

The status on your application will change from “submitted” to “approved” and you’ll get an exemption letter from ESD, at which point you’ll be:

  • Relieved of paying a 0.58% lifetime payroll tax
  • Required to present your exemption approval letter to all current and future employers.


If you fail to present your ESD approval letter, employers will withhold non-refundable WA Cares premiums.


Exemptions will take effect the quarter after your application is approved.


As always, if you have any questions or need any help navigating the opt-out process please give us a call. Please feel free to forward this onto any friends or family who may benefit. We are happy to help!



Pascale Dumesnil

I love the opportunity to get to know clients on a deep level and to grow alongside them. There are not a lot of careers out there where you are able to retain partnerships and help families and individuals make intimate financial decisions. For me, that is very empowering.