Starting February 1, 2020, covered District of Columbia employers must notify employees about their right to paid leave under the DC Paid Family Leave Act (PFLA).
The PFLA is among the most expansive paid leave laws in the country. It guarantees covered employees three kinds of leave: parental leave, family leave, and medical leave. Parental leave lasts up to eight weeks, family leave four weeks, and medical leave two weeks. This leave is funded through a government account, paid for by more than $250 million in new payroll taxes. Benefits vary depending on the employee's wages and cap out at $1,000 a week. This cap, however, is tied to the Consumer Price Index and is scheduled to start rising in October 2021.
While expansive, the PFLA has some limits. If an employee takes PFLA leave that also qualifies under the federal or DC FMLA, the leave periods run concurrently. The employee gets no additional job protection. Employers may amend their private leave policies to account for PFLA benefits, and they need not provide any additional private leave on top of PFLA leave.
Employees can start applying for PFLA leave in July of this year. But even before then, employers must notify employees of their right to potential benefits. On February 1, 2020, employers must post an official notice (available here) in all locations where covered employees work. If an employer has covered employees working remotely, it must send them copies of the notice so they can post it in their own workspaces. Employers must also give employees copies of the notice at three other points: (1) to each new employee when hired (after January 31, 2020); (2) once a year every year from that point forward; and (3) whenever an employee asks for potentially covered leave.
Right now, covered DC employers should be getting ready to post the notices next month. Generally speaking, an employer is covered if it employs or controls employees in the District and is required to pay unemployment taxes for those employees.1 DC employers should also be reviewing their hiring and leave policies to harmonize them with the new law, including setting reminders and training sessions for managers. For more details on the law's requirements and coverage, please see our previous articles, District of Columbia Enacts the Universal Paid Leave Act, and District of Columbia Passes Expansive Paid Leave Law. Employers with questions about compliance or coverage should consult with experienced counsel.
1 See DC Code § 541.01(4)(A).
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