District of Columbia Paid Family and Medical Leave

On February 15, 2017, the Mayor of the District of Columbia announced that she would not veto the Universal Paid Leave Amendments Act of 2016 (Bill 21-415) (“Act”).

This Act will create the most generous paid family and medical leave benefit in the nation by guaranteeing DC employees up to a combined 16 weeks of paid family, medical and parental leave in a 52-workweek period beginning July 20, 2020 after a required 30-day period of congressional review. Implementation will be within 180 days of the effective date of the Act.

Employees will be eligible for the paid leave under the following circumstances:

  • Family Leave: Employees may take up to six workweeks to provide care or companionship to a family member because of a serious health condition during a 52-week period. A family member is defined as a child, (biological, adopted, or foster, a step-child, legal ward or a child that the employee stands in loco parentis), a parent (including in-laws, foster parents, guardians, and persons in loco parentis), a spouse or domestic partner, a grandparent or a sibling;
  • Medical Leave: Employees may take up to two workweeks of leave within a 52-week period for the diagnosis or occurrence of a serious health condition; and
  • Parental Leave: Employees may take up to eight workweeks of leave within a 52-week period to bond with a newborn or a child placed for adoption, foster care or in loco parentis.

The paid leave is job-protected to the extent that it runs concurrent with the DC Family and Medical Leave Act which provides up to 16 weeks of unpaid family leave and16 weeks of unpaid medical leave every two years. Employees will have a one-week waiting period during which no benefits are available.

If a DC employer has an employee away from work for any of the above qualifying reasons, the employer will not be required to provide pay under the Act. Instead private DC employers will be required to pay a payroll tax that it equal to 0.62 percent of the wage of each of their covered employees. Collections for the fund will begin on July 1, 2019. There is no minimum employee threshold to be required to pay the tax.

Employees will be eligible for the paid leave if they;

  • Spend 50% or more of their worktime for the covered employer in the District of Columbia and do not spend more than 50% of their worktime in another jurisdiction; and
  • Have worked “some or all” of the previous 52 calendar weeks for a covered employer.

Note: The Act at this time does not define what the term “some or all” means

Employers will be also required to provide all employees with notice of their rights to use the Universal Paid Leave. The notice must be provided (i) at hire (ii) annually thereafter and (iii) each time the employer is aware the paid leave is needed. The notice should explain:

  • The employees’ rights to be paid under the Act;
  • Retaliation by the employer against any employee for requesting, applying for or using the paid leave benefits;
  • An employee who works for an employer with less than 20 employees will not be provided job protection; and
  • The employee has the right to file a complaint and the procedures for filing the complaint.

If the leave is foreseeable, employees must provide no less than 10 days’ notice.

C2 will continue to monitor this Act and ensure all clients receive the necessary information to be in full compliance.