Amendment To Increase the DC Universal Paid Leave Entitlement
Recently, the Council of the District of Columbia amended its statutory requirements for Universal Paid Leave through the Universal Paid Leave Emergency Amendment Act of 2022 (“Amendment Act”), to increase the paid leave and benefits available to eligible employees. The amendment shall come into force on October 1, 2022.
Current Universal Paid Leave Entitlement
Under the Universal Paid Leave Law (the Act) eligible employees are those who spend at least 50 percent of their work time, whether full-time or part-time in D.C.
The District of Columbia’s Paid Family Leaves program provides employees with benefits when they are on leave from work to bond with a new child, take care of a family member, or take care of their own serious health condition. In a period of 52 workweeks, the Act provides up to:
- 2 workweeks of qualifying pre-natal leave
- 8 workweeks of qualifying parental leave
- 6 workweeks of qualifying family leave
- 6 workweeks of qualifying medical leave
[Qualifying employees mean employees who are eligible – i.e. employees who have spent 50% of their working time in the District of Columbia and who can claim benefits for the leave. Qualifying event means employees who take leave for qualifying reasons,(for example – Qualifying medical leave event means, for an eligible individual, the diagnosis or occurrence of a serious health condition, etc.]
Paid Family Leave Benefit – An employee can receive family leaves benefits if one of the employee’s family members experiences the diagnosis or occurrence of a serious health condition that requires care from the employee. Paid Family Leave law requires at least 10 days’ notice from employees to employers of the need for leave when the employee knows that they will require leave.
Paid Medical Leave Benefit – An employee can receive medical leave benefits if they may have a serious health condition that prevents the employee from working, attending school, or performing regular activities of daily living. A serious health condition can be either physical or mental in nature and can be an injury, illness, or impairment.
Paid Parental Leave – An employee shall be provided parental leave to take care of their child.
Pre-natal Leave – Female employees shall be entitled to pre-natal leave in order to get all kinds of pre-natal checkups done during pregnancy.
Employees can choose on what schedule they want to receive Paid Family Leave benefits. The two types of leave schedules are:
- A full-time leave schedule where the employee takes off from work for a single period of time, which is known as a “continuous leave” schedule
- A part-time leave schedule where you may work and receive benefits on different days in the same week is known as an “intermittent leave” schedule.
Waiting Period – The employee has a one-week waiting period in order to receive benefit payments.
Accrual and Carry Forward – The Universal Paid Leave duration cannot be accrued or carried forward to the next year.
Amendment to the Current Leave
In accordance with the amendment, effective October 1, 2022, the maximum duration for each type of paid leave within a 52-work week period is as follows:
- 12 workweeks of qualifying parental leave
- 12 workweeks of qualifying family leave
- 12 workweeks of qualifying medical leave
- 2 workweeks of qualifying pre-natal leave (no change).
The employee can “stack” leave and receive both prenatal and parental leave, that is, for a total leave time of up to 14 weeks. The employer contribution rate to fund leave benefits has also decreased from 0.62% to 0.26% of gross wages effective for the quarter beginning July 1, 2022.
The amendments made to D.C. paid leave program by the Act shall also eliminate the one-week waiting period for individuals to receive benefit payments, instead, employees shall be able to get the payment benefits immediately. The changes were justified by a surplus in the District’s Universal Paid Leave Fund.
Employers should be prepared for the expansion in paid leave benefits, revisit their leave policies, and if necessary, update them to reflect the latest amendments to D.C.’s Universal Paid Leave law by October 1, 2022.