On February 14, 2017, the Mayor of The District of Columbia, Muriel Bowser, did not veto The DC Universal Paid Leave Amendment Act of 2016 and allowed the bill to pass without her signature. The Washington Business Journal reports, “in a letter to Council Chairman Phil Mendelson on Wednesday, Bowser wrote that she supports paid family leave but still holds concerns the bill approved by the D.C. Council is too expensive and would burden local businesses.” So, what does this mean for employers in the District?
The bill provides:
- up to 8 weeks of leave for the birth or adoption of a child,
- up to 6 weeks of leave to care for an ill family member, and
- two weeks of paid personal time.
Who is Impacted by the DC Universal Paid Leave Amendment Act?
Any individual, partnership, general contractor, subcontractor, association, corporation, business trust, or any group of persons who directly or indirectly or through an agent or any other person, including through the services of a temporary services or staffing agency or similar entity, employs or exercises control over the wages, hours, or working conditions of an employee and is required to pay unemployment insurance on behalf of its employees in accordance with D.C. Official Code. (This does not include the U.S. or D.C. government, or any employer who the D.C. government is not authorized to tax under federal law or treaty.)
Any employee who spends more than 50% of his or her work time working in D.C. for a covered employer. As a general rule based on the definitions above, if your company has employees working the majority of their work time in D.C., then your organization is almost definitely covered by the law. In other words, those employees that do not live in the District, but work in the District and meet the criteria for coverage will be eligible.
What the DC Universal Paid Leave Means for Employers and Employees
Covered employers will be required to contribute 0.62% of the annual salary for each of its covered employees to the Universal Paid Leave Fund in a manner that will be communicated to covered employers no later than 180 days from the passage of this act. In other words, if your company is covered, you’ll owe money to the D.C. government, and they will let you know how to make payment nearer to the end of 2017.
To receive benefits under this law, employees will follow the procedures established by the Mayor which have not yet been created. The onus for submitting the benefits claim appears to be on the individual and not the employer. Once D.C. government receives the claim, the D.C. government will notify the employer within five business days of the claim being filed, and within ten days the individual in question will be provided an initial determination.
If your business doesn’t comply, either an impacted individual and/or the D.C. government can file a civil suit to enforce provisions of the law. In addition, there are posting requirements for employers which (if not followed) can result in a fine of up to $100 per impacted individual, in addition to a penalty of $100 per day of non-compliance.
When will the DC Universal Paid Leave Act go into Effect?
By December 30, 2017, the Mayor will provide an update to the City Council regarding the expected timeline for payment of claims under the act. The D.C. government has set a date of March 1, 2019, to begin to collect contributions, although additional details are not yet available. This law does not provide any job protections not already covered under the DC Family and Medical Leave Act.
The best bet is to stay tuned for additional information. There are certainly changes underway, and we should expect further clarification nearer to the end of 2017.