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April 2022: Washington, D.C. Dramatically Increases Paid Leave

Update Applicable to:
All employers in the city of Washington, D.C.

What happened?
Due to a surplus in the District of Columbia’s Paid Leave Fund, the number of weeks of paid leave available to D.C. workers under D.C. Universal Paid Leave Act will significantly increase on July 1, 2022.

What are the details?
Under the Universal Paid Leave Emergency Amendment Act of 2021 (PLEAA), the District’s Chief Financial Officer (CFO) may modify the maximum duration of leave available under the PFL program annually depending upon the projected balance of the Universal Paid Leave Fund. 

On March 1, 2022, the acting CFO certified that the Paid Leave Fund has enough money to increase the potential maximum duration of qualifying paid leave available to D.C. employees.

Currently, the law provides for a maximum of:

  • Eight workweeks of parental leave;
  • Six workweeks of family leave;
  • Six workweeks of medical leave; and
  • Two workweeks of pre-natal leave.

Starting on July 1, 2022, these maximums will increase to:

  • 12 workweeks of parental leave;
  • 12 workweeks of family leave;
  • 12 workweeks of medical leave; and
  • Two workweeks of pre-natal leave.

Once these new maximums take effect, there will be an overall cap of 12 weeks of paid leave available to each eligible D.C. employee per year.

In addition, the employer payroll tax used to fund this leave is being decreased from 0.62% to 0.26% as of July 1, 2022.

For more information, please see the links below:

DC Paid Family Leave

Article 1Article 2

What do employers need to do?
Employers should review the links provided above and prepare to make adjustments to their paid leave policies to ensure they are up to date.

District of Columbia COVID-19 Paid Leave Extended

Update Applicable to:
All employers with 20 or more employees in the District of Columbia

What happened?
On December 22, 2021, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser signed temporary legislation extending COVID-19 Paid Leave.

What are the details?
On November 18, 2021, Mayor Bowser signed the COVID Vaccination Leave Emergency Act of 2021, D.C. Act 24-209, D.C. Code § 32-502.01, which amended the Original COVID-19 Leave provision and created a new COVID-19 Leave to take effect November 5, 2021 (New COVID-19 Leave).

On December 22, 2021, Mayor Bowser also signed the COVID Vaccination Leave TemporaryAct of 2021. This guidance is confined to the New COVID-19 Leave, which began on November 5, 2021.

Although published in the D.C. Register, the temporary legislation is in a 30-day congressional review period under the District of Columbia Home Rule Act. The anticipated effective date is February 18, 2022. Once approved by Congress, the temporary legislation will expire after 225 days (October 1, 2022). The 225 days will allow sufficient time for permanent legislation to be enacted.

Key Provisions of the New COVID-19 Leave:

  1. Starting November 5, 2021, an employee who has worked for 30 days for an employer with 20 or more employees in the District of Columbia may use up to 16 weeks of New COVID-19 Leave (D.C. Code § 32-502.01, the version approved November 18, 2021) for one of the following reasons:
    • Positive Test Result: If the employee tested positive for COVID-19 or is caring for a family member or individual with whom the employee shares a household who has tested positive for COVID-19 and must quarantine pursuant to Department of Health guidelines.
    • Isolation or Quarantine: If the employee has a recommendation from a healthcare provider or a directive from an employer that the employee isolates or quarantines due to COVID-19, including because the employee or an individual with whom the employee shares a household is at high risk for serious illness from COVID-19.
    • Care for Other: If the employee must care for a family member or an individual with whom the employee shares a household, who is isolating or quarantining pursuant to Department of Health guidance, the recommendation of a healthcare provider, or the order or policy of the family member’s or individual’s school or childcare provider.
    • Childcare Closure: If the employee must care for a child whose school or place of care is closed or whose childcare provider is unavailable to the employee due to COVID-19.
  1. Certification: An employer may request reasonable certification of the need, such as:
    • Dated test result
    • Healthcare provider signed and dated statement
    • Copy of Department of Health guidance and documentation demonstrating need to comply
    • Copy of childcare facility policy or written statement from the facility.
  1. Advance Notice: An employee must provide advance notice where possible, or otherwise as soon as possible after a need to take leave arises.
  1. Unpaid Leave: New COVID-19 Leave is unpaid, but an employee may use accrued paid leave, which counts against the 16-week entitlement.
  1. Penalties: A violation of COVID-19 leave provisions could result in a fine of $1,000 per offense, as well as damages outlined in D.C. Code § 32-509.
  1. Effective Dates: New COVID-19 Leave is available starting November 5, 2021.

For more information, please see the links below:

Legislation B24-0405

District of Columbia Article

COVID-19 Leave Poster

Article 1Article 2

What do employers need to do?
Employers should review the links provided above and ensure their current COVID-19 policies are aligned with the New COVID-19 Leave.

August 2021 District of Colombia HR Legal Updates

Washington D.C. Extends COVID-19 Leave Laws

Update Applicable to:
Employers in Washington D.C.

What happened?
On July 24, 2021, Mayor Bowser signed D.C. Emergency Act 24-125 into law.

What are the details?
The act, effective immediately, extends the enacted COVID-19 Leave laws that were due to expire on July 25, 2021. With the act, these laws are now active through November 5, 2021. With this, requirements like the following are still in effect:

  • All D.C. employers must provide employees who have been employed for at least 30 days with up to 16 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave if the employee is unable to work due to specified reasons related to COVID-19, including a health care provider’s recommendation of quarantine or isolation for the employee or a household member for whom the employee needs to care, school closures, and the unavailability of the employee’s child care provider.
  • D.C. employers with between 50 and 499 employees must also provide up to 80 hours of paid sick leave to employees employed for at least 15 days for any of the reasons for which federal paid leave was available under the now-expired Families First Coronavirus Response Act.

The act can be read here.

An article on the act can be found here.

What do employers need to do?
Employers should review the emergency act to continue the mandated leave and stay compliant with their leave policies.

September 2020 District of Columbia HR Legal Updates

Upcoming Voter Rights Notice Requirement

The Leave to Vote Amendment Act of 2020, passed June 24, 2020, has a requirement of employers to post a notice educating employees about their voter leave rights. This notice is to be supplied by the District of Columbia Board of Elections, sometime before the November elections. The Board has yet to supply the notice. They have also not provided an ETA on when employers should be expecting to see it, other than before the November elections.

The DC Board of Elections’ forms and resources can be found here.

July 2020 Washington, D.C. HR Legal Updates

D.C Expands Face Mask Requirement – Mandates Employer-Provided Masks

What happened?
Washington, D.C Mayor Muriel Bowser has issued a Mayoral Order, effective immediately, expanding face mask requirements.

What are the details?
New face masks requirements have been issued in a Mayoral Order by Mayor Bowser. These requirements include:

  • Employers will need to provide masks to workers in Washington, D.C.
    • Individuals leaving their residence will need to wear a mask when they are likely to encounter other people.
    • Places of business open to the public must put up signs noting that persons not wearing masks will not be allowed to enter.

Violations of the order can incur up to a $1,000 fine per violation. The Metropolitan Police Department is authorized to enforce these rules. No youth under the age of 18 will be charged with a violation.

The full order can be found here.

What do employers need to do?
Employers in Washington, D.C. will need to immediately begin supplying employees with masks. If the workplace is open to the public, they should create and post signage about entry being barred for individuals not wearing masks.

June 2020 Washington, D.C. HR Legal Updates

D.C. Paid Family Leave Available July 1

What happened?
Washington, D.C. passed a law on February 17, 2017, to provide paid family leave to employees effective July 1, 2020.

What are the details?
Starting July 1, 2020 employers will need to accommodate employees taking their government provided paid leaves. Employers are entitled to the following paid leaves from the D.C. government:

  • Up to eight weeks per year to bond with a new child
  • Up to six weeks per year to care for a family member with a serious health condition
    • Up to two weeks per year to care for the employee’s own serious health condition

For a more detailed breakdown of what steps employers should have taken leading up to July 1, 2020, click here.

What do employers need to do?
Employers need to maintain records relating to the employee leaves for a minimum of three years. They will still need to report quarterly payroll contributions to the Department of Employment Services. Every year employers will need to provide a notice to all employees regarding their rights to Paid Family Leave. If the employer becomes aware of an employee who may need to use the Paid Family Leave they must provide a copy of the notice to the employee.

The notice is available online, click here.

March 2020 District of Columbia HR Legal Updates

Amended D.C.’s FMLA Statute

What happened?
The District of Columbia Council and Mayor signed a bill providing leave for employee related to COVID-19.

What are the details?
Employees may take time off for a “Declaration of Emergency Leave” when unable to work if the government or medical professional has recommended (or mandated) self-quarantine or isolation.

This law applies to employers of any size, and there is no eligibility period beyond being an active employee. This leave can be taken for the duration of the public health emergency.

This leave in unpaid and staff will be eligible for unemployment benefits.

What do employers need to do?
Comply with the information listed above.

https://www.manatt.com/Insights/Newsletters/COVID-19-Update/District-of-Columbia-Expands-FMLA-and-Unemployment

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