Effective today, employees in DC are eligible for paid family leave pursuant to the DC Paid Family Leave Act (the Act). Below is our brief primer on what employers need to know and what to expect when administering paid family leave.
The Act is an insurance program. It does not govern whether an employee is eligible for the leave itself but whether an employee will be eligible for paid leave benefits. Whether an employee is entitled to leave itself is governed by a number of other federal, state, and local laws. In many cases, an employee may be eligible for a leave period that is longer than paid leave benefits under the Act.
What type of leave (and how much) can employees qualify for?
The Act provides up to:
- 8 weeks to bond with a new child (parental leave);
- 6 weeks to care for a family member with a serious health condition (family leave); and
- 2 weeks to care for your own serious health condition (medical leave).
Employees may take a combination of parental, family, and/or medical leave up to the limits stated above in a single 52-week period. However, the combined total of leave taken during a 52-week period may not exceed 8 weeks. Paid family leave may also be taken intermittently.
Which employers qualify?
The paid leave requirements apply to any business performing services in DC that pays unemployment insurance (UI) taxes for its employees. This includes non-profit organizations and household employers that pay UI tax.
Which employees qualify?
If an employer pays UI tax on an employee for one fiscal quarter, the employee will automatically be presumed to be a covered employee for paid family leave. Employers can rebut this presumption by submitting documentation showing otherwise, which will be decided on a case-by-case basis.
How are paid family leave benefits funded?
Paid family leave benefits are funded by a quarterly employer payroll tax of 0.62% of their covered employees’ total wages. Employers should already be paying this tax. The benefits are paid by the DC government.
Are individuals unemployed due to COVID-19 eligible to receive paid family leave benefits?
No. If the individual is unemployed before July 1, then they are not eligible to receive paid family leave benefits. An individual must be currently employed by a covered employer to file a claim for paid family leave benefits.
Are there notice requirements?
Yes. Beginning January 1, 2020, DC employers are required to provide notice about paid family leave to:
- all new employees within thirty (30) days of hire (either in paper or electronic form);
- all employees at all times (via a physical posting in a conspicuous place for each worksite);
- all employees annually (either in paper or electronic form); and
- each covered worker at the time the employer learns that paid family leave may be needed (either in paper or electronic form).
Employers should ensure that all worksites have the required posting and that all notices are incorporated into new hire paperwork and new hire onboarding processes.
What are the reporting and record-keeping requirements?
An employer will be required to submit quarterly wage reports. Payroll records must also be kept for at least three years that include each worker’s name and Social Security number or individual taxpayer identification number, pay period dates, wages for each pay period, and dates of employment.
The paid family leave program does not change the requirements of other laws. Employers are still required to provide leave or accommodations as applicable under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), DC FMLA, and other relevant laws.