D.C. Requires Additional Paid Leave for COVID-19 Vaccination and Recovery

McGuireWoods LLP

On Nov. 18, 2021, Washington, D.C., amended the Accrued Sick and Safe Leave Act of 2008 (ASSLA) to provide paid time off for COVID-19 vaccinations and recovery.

Beginning immediately, the new law requires D.C. employers to provide up to two hours of paid leave per injection of either the employee or a child under the age of 18 who lives with the employee. Moreover, employers must provide vaccination recovery leave. This consists of up to eight hours of leave during the 24-hour period following the two-hour vaccination leave period. The purpose of the leave is for the employee to recover or care for a child recovering from the side effects from a COVID-19 vaccination. Employers must provide up to 48 hours of combined vaccination and recovery leave in a year. Initial injections, second doses and boosters are all covered by the law.

Employees are eligible for this leave if they began working for the employer at least 15 days before the requested leave. Under ASSLA, covered employees also must spend at least 50 percent of their time working in D.C. (or must be based in D.C. and spend a substantial part of working time in D.C. if the employee does not spend more than 50 percent of working time in any particular state).

This leave supplements the paid leave already provided under ASSLA. It also must be offered in addition to any other paid leave an employer provides an employee under an existing leave policy, unless the existing leave policy exclusively and expressly provides COVID-19 vaccination and recovery leave in an amount equal to or greater than the amount provided by the amended ASSLA and does not otherwise reduce an employee’s available paid leave. Employees taking such leave must be compensated at their regular rate of pay.

Employers may require up to 48 hours’ notice of the need for leave, except that an employee may take leave in the event of an emergency, upon reasonable notice. Employers also may request, upon the employee’s return to work, reasonable documentation of the need for leave. This may include a vaccination record or other documentation attesting to the date and time of the vaccination injection. Employers cannot require employees to search for or identify another person to perform the work of the employee taking leave.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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