Quick Hit: The temporary expansion of the DC Family and Medical Leave Act to provide D.C. employees up to 16 weeks of unpaid, job-protected “COVID-19 leave” has been extended through October 9, 2020. The D.C. Office of Human Rights has published an updated notice reflecting the extended effective date, which employers “must post and maintain . . . in a conspicuous place and transmit it to employees working remotely.” Note that should the Mayor extend the declared COVID-19 public health emergency beyond October 9, 2020, this leave expansion will likely be extended again.
More Detail: As we previously reported, the D.C. COVID-19 Support Emergency Amendment Act and the Coronavirus Support Clarification Emergency Amendment Act of 2020 (collectively, the “CSEA”) allow employees in the District to temporarily take unpaid, COVID-19 leave under an amendment to the D.C. Family and Medical Leave Act (“DCFMLA”). The expansion of the law allows employees in the District who have worked for 30 days for an employer of any size to take up to 16-weeks of COVID-19 leave “if the employee is unable to work due to:
- A recommendation from a healthcare provider to quarantine or isolate, including because the employee or an employee’s household member is high risk for serious illness from COVID-19;
- A need to care for a family member or a member or an individual with whom the employee shares a household who is under a government or health care provider’s order to quarantine or isolate; or
- A need to care for a child whose school or place of care is closed or whose childcare provider is unavailable to the employee.”
The law permits employers to obtain “reasonable certification of the need for COVID-19 leave,” as specifically set forth in the law:
- If the leave is necessitated by the recommendation of a health care provider to the employee, a written, dated statement from a health care provider stating that the employee has such need and the probable duration of the need for leave.
- If the leave is necessitated by the recommendation of a health care provider to an employee’s family member or individual with whom the employee shares a household, a written, dated statement from a health care provider stating that the individual has such need and the probable duration of the condition.
- If the leave is needed because a school, place of care, or childcare provider is unavailable, a statement by the head of the agency, company, or childcare provider stating such closure or unavailability, which may include a printed statement obtained from the institution’s website.
Like other bases for DCFMLA leave, employees may elect, but are not required to use, other non-statutory paid leave provided by their employer (e.g., vacation time) while on COVID-19 leave. In addition, the expansion provides that employees using the new leave “shall not be required, but may elect, to use leave provided under this section before other leave to which the employee is entitled under federal or District law or an employer’s policies, unless otherwise barred by District or federal law.”