Summary of District of Columbia Laws
D.C. Accrued Safe and Sick Leave Act
as amended by the Earned Safe and Sick Leave Act of 2013 which was signed by the Mayor Jan. 2, 2014.
Safe and Sick Leave Changes
The Accrued Save and Sick Leave Act of 2008 was amended in 2014. Here are the basic requirements under the law as amended:
WHAT: DC employers must provide employees paid leave (1) to care for themselves or their family members, and (2) for absences related to domestic violence or abuse. Because the University has over 100 employees, the University must provide 1 hour of safe or sick leave per every 37 hours worked. If the employee works for the year, this equals about seven days.
WHO: Under the law, the University would be considered an employer. An employee would be any person employed by the University, including permanent, part-time, temporary and seasonal employees, with the exception of students, volunteers, and independent contractors.
To be eligible for the exemption for students, the student must be enrolled at CUA, work under 25 hours per week, and not displace the job of another worker.
WHEN: Before the 2014 amendment, only employees that met the DC FMLA standard of 1,000 hours were eligible for safe or sick leave by law. The amendments significantly reduce these amounts. Employees must begin accruing safe or sick leave when they begin work and may use that leave after 90 days of service.
An employee may roll over unused leave days into the following year but an employer is not required to compensate an employee for unused days at the completion of their employment. Leave must also be reinstated when an employee is rehired by the same employer within one year of separation from employment. There are also a number of other provisions regarding when a transferred, separated, or rehired employee is eligible for back leave, which can be further explained if necessary.
HOW: If a leave request is foreseeable, an employee must provide the employer with a written request at least 10 days before the proposed leave date. If a leave request is unforeseeable, the employer must notify the employer prior to the start of the next work shift. If an employee has taken three or more consecutive days of paid leave, the employer can request certification from the employee.
Employers also must retain records documenting hours worked by employees and paid leave taken over three years. The DC Auditor must also have access to these records.
Employers are also required to post a safe and sick leave notice in a conspicuous place.
NON-COMPLIANCE: Penalties for noncompliance have been strengthened including back pay, reinstatement, compensatory or punitive damages, or reasonable attorney’s fees. Retaliation provisions have also been clarified and strengthened including, in certain situations, a rebuttable presumption that an employer violated the act. A private right of action for violation of this law has also been added.
The employee may file either with DOES or in court. For violations of the act, the employer is liable for (1) back pay, (2) reinstatement or injunctive relief, (3) compensatory damages, and/or punitive damages, including at least $500 for every day the employee was denied leave and required to work, and (4) reasonable attorney’s costs and fees. Willful violations of the act also receive a civil penalty of $1,000 for the first violation, $1,500 for the second violation, and $2,000 for the third and subsequent violations. DOES may also order the employer to pay $500 per day violated to compensate the District for any investigation conducted.
UNIVERSITY POLICY CHANGES: Regarding which employees are eligible for paid leave, the new policy will have to be expanded to cover all employees (permanent, part-time, temporary, and seasonal) after 90 days. The hours of these employees will also have to be tracked during the initial 90 day period, which will count toward leave totals. The revised policy will also allow employees to take paid leave for care for themselves, care for family members, and for absences related to domestic violence or abuse. Last, if an employee if separated from the University and then rehired within one year, that employee’s leave will have to be reinstated.
DATE OF COMPLIANCE: The amendment states the effective date of the law is February 2014, at the conclusion of the Congressional review period. However, the amendment also says that the law will not be “applicable” until a budget impact statement regarding the impact of the amendment is inserted into the DC budget. This may not occur, according to DOES, until 2015. See also the memo from the former CFO for DC on applicability date. The memo seems to imply the bill cannot be implemented due to lack of funds. The law states it is not "applicable" until published in the DC Register. The law was published in the DC Register on April 11, 2014, with an "effective" date of Feb. 22, 2014.
See also Epstein Becker Green article Feb. 2013.
Definitions and scope of coverage
*An employer with 100 or more employees must provide one hour of paid leave for every 37 hours an employee works, not to exceed seven days a year. The law exempts full time students who are employed for less than 25 hours a week at the institutions they attend. If an employee does not suffer a loss of income when absent from work, the employer is not required to provide leave as called for by the law. This may mean (and does mean at CUA) that faculty and other instructional staff are not covered by this law with respect to sick leave, but may be covered when the request is for *safe leave*. Independent contractors are not covered by this law.
Posting of Notice
Employers are required to post a notice of the law in all languages necessary to accomodate their employees.
Situations in which paid leave is required under the legislation:
(b) Paid leave accrued under this section may be used by an employee for any of the following:
(1) An absence resulting from a physical or mental illness, injury, or medical condition of the employee;
(2) An absence resulting from obtaining professional medical diagnosis or care, or preventive medical care, for the employee, subject to the requirement of subsection (d) of this section;
(3) An absence for the purpose of caring for a child, a parent, a spouse, domestic partner, or any other family member who has any of the conditions or needs for diagnosis or care described in paragraph (1) or (2) of this subsection; or
(4) An absence if the employee or the employee's family member is a victim of stalking, domestic violence, or sexual abuse; provided, that the absence is directly related to social or legal services pertaining to the stalking, domestic violence, or sexual abuse, to:
(A) Seek medical attention for the employee or the employee's family member to recover from physical or psychological injury or disability caused by domestic violence or sexual abuse;
(B) Obtain services from a victim services organization;
(C) Obtain psychological or other counseling;
(D) Temporarily or permanently relocate;
(E) Take legal action, including preparing for or participating in any civil or criminal legal proceeding related to or resulting from the domestic violence or sexual abuse; or
(F) Take other actions to enhance the physical, psychological, or economic health or safety of the employee or the employee's family member or to enhance the safety of those who associate or work with the employee.
Little Mendelson Article posted Feb. 17, 2014
updated 4-1-14, posting on new law by Scott Goldschmidt
updated 4-10-14 on DC Register and applicabilty date mlo
updated 4-22-14 to add effective date and publication in DC Register