What Employers and Employees Need to Know About D.C.’s Universal Paid Leave Act

Media Type: Alert

The D.C. Council recently approved the Universal Paid Leave Amendment Act of 2016 establishing one of the most generous paid family leave laws in the country. While the answers to many specific questions on implementation must wait for rules from the mayor, there are some basic facts that employers and employees need to know.

Rather than requiring that employers provide employees with a certain number of hours or days of leave, the act mandates that employers pay a 0.62% payroll tax on the wages of covered employees. Taxes will be collected to support a Paid Leave Implementation Fund, and eligible employees will be permitted to file a claim for benefits from the fund using an online portal to be established by the mayor. 

Covered employees are those employees that spend more than 50% of their work time for the employer working in the District of Columbia. Benefits for eligible covered employees include paid time off as follows: eight weeks for new parents to care for a newborn or adopted child, six weeks to provide care to an ailing family member, and two weeks of personal medical leave. The total amount of leave shall not exceed eight weeks in a 52-week period. 

Contributions under the act will begin no later than July 1, 2019.  Benefits under the plan are not expected to be available until a year after contributions begin. 

Many employers may already provide paid leave benefits to employees. Nonetheless, they will still be responsible for compliance with the act. More guidance concerning the overlap between the act and D.C.’s Accrued Sick and Safe Leave Act are expected to be provided under the Mayor’s rules. 

The act now goes to Mayor Bowser and it is unclear if she will sign the bill, let it advance unsigned, or veto it . Even if the bill is vetoed, the D.C. Council has enough support to overrule the mayor’s decision. Assuming the bill advances, the next stage is a 30-day period of congressional review. The mayor will issue implementing rules within 180 days of full and final approval. The mayor will also prescribe a notice which, once available, will need to be provided by employers to covered employees.

More on paid leave:
Montgomery County Clarifies and Expands Sick and Safe Leave Law

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