The Catholic University of America

Summary of District of Columbia Laws


"D.C. Family and Medical Leave Act"

D.C. Code Ann. §§ 32-501 to 32-517

D.C. Mun. Regs. tit. 4, § 1600 et seq.

DC Universal Paid Leave Act 

DC Code Ann. § 21-264


NB: DC passed a Universal Paid Leave Bill which has not yet been fully implemented. The Act creates a paid leave system for those employed in DC. If there is no revocation or change to the law, the employees covered by the law (and at this time this would include Catholic University) will be subject to a payroll tax of 0.62% of the wages of each of their covered employees. 

Employers would have to pay into the fund starting July 1, 2019, with employees being eligible for benefits from DC effective July 1, 2020. Covered employees are those who spend 50% or more of their working time in DC. Employees can take up to 8 weeks of paid leave for family leave to bond with a new child, six weeks to care for an ill family member with a serious health condition, and two weeks for one's own serious health condition. However, unlike paid leave from the employer, employees would only receive a percentage of their salary when receiving pay from the DC Paid Leave Fund.  There is nothing that prevents the employer from making the employee whole, but many questions remain on implementation of the system. Employers who have their own paid leave programs are not exempt from the tax. 

See the DC FAQ on this new law

Curent FMLA

The Law: The Act is applicable to all employers with 20 or more employees in the District of Columbia on or after April 1, 1991. The District allows private and District government employees a total of 16 workweeks of leave during any 24-month period for the birth, adoption, or foster placement of a child, or for the serious illness of a family member. To be eligible, employees must have worked a minimum of 1,000 hours in the preceding 12 months. The employer is not required to provide paid family leave. In conjunction with federal law provisions for leave, an employer must grant the employee rights under whichever law grants greater protection. See 29 C.F.R. § 825.702.

If an employee is unable to perform his/her employment duties because of a serious health condition, the employee is entitled to a medical leave for as long as necessary or intermittently, but not more than 16 workweeks during any 24-month period.

Employee Notice: An employee must provide timely notice to the employer of his/her need for DCFMLA leave. If the leave was foreseeable, the employee must notify the employer of his/her need for leave 30 days prior to the commencement of the leave. If the leave was not foreseeable, the employee must notify his/her employer "as soon as possible prior to the date on which the employee wishes the leave to begin." D.C. Mun. REgs. Tit. 4, § 1608.2. When an emergency prevents the employee from being able to notify the employer prior to the first day of absence, the employee must notify the employer "not later than two (2) business days after the absence begins." Id. § 1608.3.

Certification: An employer may require that requests for leave are supported by documentary evidence of need. The certification must state: the date when health condition began, the probable duration, appropriate medical facts related to the leave and, if applicable, a statement that the employee is unable to perform his/her employment duties. The employer may also request that re-certifications be obtained on a reasonable basis. See D.C. Code Ann. § 36-1304.

Benefits Protection: No employment or seniority benefits accrued will be lost for taking a family or medical leave. The same health coverage will be maintained during the employee's leave. However, employers may require continued contribution to the plan as if the employee were not on leave.

Employment Protection: The employer is required to return the employee to the same position he/she was in (or the equivalent) before the leave, except if the employee was one of the five highest paid employees (if fewer than 50 are employed), or among the highest 10% of employees paid (if more that 50 are employed).

In addition, the employer may deny restoration if the following conditions are met: (1) the employer is under a contract which cannot be satisfied with the absence of the employee; (2) failure to complete the contract will cause the employer substantial economic injury; and (3) after reasonable attempts, the employer was unable to find a temporary replacement.

If the employer does not return the employee to the same (or equivalent) position, the employer must be demonstrated that the action was necessary to prevent substantial economic injury to the employer not directly related to the leave. The employer must notify the employee that he/she intends to deny restoration and why.

Recordkeeping and Reports: Employers must keep and maintain records regarding activity related to the Act and make them available to the Mayor. This includes the number of employees who have taken leave under the Act, the cost to the employer to replace the employee, the additional cost to employee's health insurance, length of leave, reasons for leave, salary of employee, documents supporting request for leave and the employer's disposition upon the request. The employer must keep the information confidential. The employer must file an annual report summarizing all leave actions occurring under the Act in the form issued by the District. The Mayor may investigate and gather data, enter, and inspect records and any place of employment. See D.C. Code Ann. § 36-1308; D.C. Mun. Regs. tit. 4, § 1606.

Employer Notice: Employers must conspicuously post a copy of the pertinent information of the Act.

Relation to Federal Law: A similar law, the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 , exists at the federal level. See 29 U.S.C. § 2601 et seq.; 29 C.F.R. Part 825.100 et seq. Federal law allows up to a total of 12 workweeks in any 12 months. Federal family and medical leave and District of Columbia family and medical leave run concurrently and cannot be used consecutively if leave is covered under both laws. Paid leave may be substituted for unpaid leave if the employee has earned or accrued the leave. In certain cases, leave may be taken on an intermittent basis rather than all at once, or the employee may work a part-time schedule.

Cross Reference: For general information on the interplay between the state and federal law, see the General Counsel Family and Medical Leave information page. See also the CUA Family and Medical Leave Policy.

DC Bar Summary of the FMLA

 See DCMR 4-1601 for General Applicablity of the Law

 See DCMR 4-1614 for Reasonable Notice by Employee

 DC Web page on Paid Family Leave 



updated 1-10-19