D.C. Council Enacts Legislation to Help Workers During COVID-19 Shutdowns

On March 17, 2020, the District of Columbia Council passed the D.C. COVID-19 Response Emergency Amendment Act of 2020 to provide workplace protections to D.C. workers whose employment is affected, or could be affected, by the coronavirus. The legislation addresses some of these critical needs, including providing economic assistance to workers and businesses, preventing evictions and utility cut-offs, and extending deadlines for public benefit filings. With respect to D.C.’s workers, the legislation broadens the pool of workers who are entitled to job-protected leave for their—or their families’—health needs.

The legislation temporarily extends the District of Columbia Family and Medical Leave Act. All D.C. employers are covered, regardless of size, and all employees are eligible for leave regardless of the length of employment prior to needing leave. An employee can take job-protected leave when the employee has been directed to quarantine or isolate by the D.C. or federal government, or by a medical provider. A note from a medical provider or a recommendation from a D.C. or federal government agency is sufficient to certify an employee’s need for the leave.

Since 2014, all employers in the District of Columbia are required to provide some paid sick and safe time leave to employees. The amount of paid time depends on the size of the employer. Large Employers who have 100 or more employees must allow accrual of 1 hour for every 37 hours worked up to 7 days per year of paid leave. Mid-sized employers with 25-99 employees must provide 1 hour of paid sick leave for every 43 hours worked. Mid-sized employers can cap leave accrual and usage to 5 days of leave each year. Small employers with fewer than 25 employees must provide accrued leave at 1 hour for every 87 hours worked and can cap the accrual to 3 days of leave per year. An employee may use accrued sick and safe leave for absences resulting from: a physical or mental illness, injury, or medical condition of the employee; obtaining a professional medical diagnosis or care or preventive medical care for the employee; caring for a family member who has any of the conditions or needs for diagnosis or care as described above for employees; or the employee or the employee’s family member being a victim of stalking, domestic violence, or sexual abuse and the absence is directly related to medical, social, or legal services pertaining to the crime of which the employee or employee’s family member is a victim.

If you have questions about your employer’s leave policies or your eligibility, contact Correia & Puth today.