For employers located in the greater Washington, D.C. metropolitan area, keeping up with multiple states’ employment law requirements can be challenging. Virginia closely tracks the federal laws that govern employers on issues such as the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), with only some minor variations, while Maryland mandates employee leave that deviates from both federal law and District of Columbia law.
The District of Columbia has implemented more stringent requirements for employers to comply with under several employment and labor laws. Here, I will focus specifically on one such law, the District of Columbia’s “Accrued Sick and Safe Leave Act” (the “Act”), which requires employers to provide paid sick days for employees working in the District of Columbia, regardless of where the employer’s other offices or headquarters are located, or what state the employee resides in.
The Act applies to all private sector and government employers. It is not applicable to independent contractors, students, or health care workers who choose to participate in a premium pay program. Restaurant wait staff and bartenders who work for a combination of wages and tips, temporary, staffing firms, and part-time employees are covered by the law, under 2013 amendment to the original statute.
To be eligible for paid sick leave under the Act, employees must have worked for the employer for at least 90 days. Note that the definition of employee includes employees who are employed by the employer in more than one location – both in and away from the District of Columbia — but spend more than 50 percent of their working time for the employer in the District of Columbia.
The amount of paid leave required under the Act will depend on the number of employees that are employed by the employer and, again, working at least 50% of the time in the District of Columbia.
If you employ:
- 24 or fewer employees in the District of Columbia, you must provide 1 hour of paid leave for every 87 hours worked for each eligible employee, not to exceed 3 days of paid leave per calendar year.
- 25 to 99 employees in the District of Columbia, you must provide 1 hour of paid leave for every 43 hours worked for each eligible employee, not to exceed 5 days of paid leave per calendar year.
- 100 or more employees in the District of Columbia, you must provide 1 hour of paid leave for every 37 hours worked for each eligible employee, not to exceed 7 days of paid leave per calendar year.
The employee may use the paid leave for physical or mental illness, injury, or medical condition or to assist with the medical care of a family member. The Act also allows for the employee to use the paid leave if the employee or the employee’s family member is the victim of stalking, domestic violence, or sexual abuse.
The Act defines “family member” to include children, grandchildren, foster children, spouses, siblings, siblings’ spouses, children’s spouses, parents, grandparents and domestic partners (defined as anyone with whom the employee maintains a committed relationship and with whom the employee has lived with for the past year).
The employee may “roll over” any unused sick and safe days from year to year. However, paid leave accrued under the Act that is unused at the termination or resignation of the employee and does not need to be reimbursed by the employer.
The employee must provide 10 days prior written notice to the employer of the employee’s intent to use the paid leave if the employee is aware of the need to use the paid leave ahead of time. Otherwise, notice must be given to the employer on the business day following the date on which the employee becomes aware of the need to use the paid leave.
The employer can create a form that the employee can use to request the leave that requires the employee to provide the employee’s name, identification number (if any), the type of leave, and the reason for the leave and the dates the paid leave to be taken.
If the employee requests paid leave for 3 or more consecutive days, the employer can require that the request be supported by a reasonable certification that must be provided upon the employee’s return to work or within one business day thereafter.
”Reasonable certification” under the Act includes:
- A signed document from a health care provider affirming the illness of the employee or the employee’s family member;
- A police report indicating that the employee or the employee’s family member was the victim of stalking, domestic violence, or sexual abuse;
- A court order indicating that the employee or employee’s family member was the victim of stalking, domestic violence, or sexual abuse; or
- A signed written statement from a victim or witness advocate affirming that the employee or employee’s family member is involved in legal action or proceedings related to stalking, domestic violence, or sexual abuse.
For those employers that already have an employee paid leave policy (for example, paid time off or universal leave) that provides paid leave options for an employee to utilize at the employee’s discretion and is one which allows the accrual and usage of leave that is at least equivalent to the paid leave required under the ASSLA, no modifications are required for your existing policy.
The employer must post the Official Notice required under the Act in a conspicuous location in the employer’s places of employment. The Official Notice is available in English and Spanish on the District of Columbia government website. Failure to post the Official Notice may result in a $100 per day fine, not to exceed $500 per violation.
Claims filed by an employee alleging a violation of the Act by the Employer are investigated by the District of Columbia Department of Employment Services. If an employer willfully violates the Act, it will be assessed a civil penalty of $500 for the first violation, $750 for the second violation and $1,000 for the third and any subsequent violations.
If you have employees working in the District of Columbia who meet the requirements for the paid leave under the Act, you should review your current leave policies to determine if you need to modify your existing policy to comply with the Act.
If you have questions about the D.C. Accrued Sick and Safe Leave Act or need any assistance, please contact Doug Taylor at (703) 525-4000 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article is for informational purposes only and does not contain or convey legal advice. Consult a lawyer. Any views or opinions expressed herein are those of the authors and are not necessarily the views of any client.