District of Columbia

Labor Compliance Guide

Hours & Pay Regulations

Normal Working Hours

Employers must pay employees for all time that they are required to be on the work premises, on duty or at a prescribed location. Employees also must be paid for the time they are permitted to work, time spent traveling for work and time spent waiting on the work premises for assignments.


Employers must pay employees covered by the District of Columbia’s overtime law time-and-one-half their regular rate of pay for hours worked in excess of 40 per week.


Split Shift

The employer shall pay the employee for one additional hour at the minimum wage for each day during which the employee works a split shift. This provision is not applicable to an employee who lives on the premises of the employer.


Travel Expenses

The employer shall pay the cost of travel expenses incurred by the employee in performing the business of the employer.


An employer must provide reasonable daily unpaid break periods for an employee to express breast milk. If the employer already provides a paid or unpaid break period to the employee, such time shall run concurrently with the required break period. The employer must make reasonable efforts to provide the employee with a sanitary/private space, other than a bathroom or toilet stall, close to her work location where she can express milk. The location may include a childcare facility in close proximity to the employee’s work location. D.C. Code § 2-1402.82(d)

Annual Leave

State law does not require employers to provide any type of employee fringe benefits such as holiday pay, PTO, vacation pay, sick leave, etc. to their employees. However, when an employer chooses to provide such benefits that the employer is responsible for establishing a written policy outlining how those benefits are earned and paid.

Minimum Wage

Effective July 1, 2018, the District of Columbia’s hourly minimum wage is $13.25.


The hourly minimum wage is to increase to $14 on July 1, 2019; and to $15 on July 1, 2020.


Annual inflation-related adjustments are to be made to the hourly minimum wage starting July 1, 2021.


Each year at least 30 days before July 1, the mayor is to publish in the District of Columbia Register and make available to employers a bulletin announcing the adjusted minimum wage. Under the bill, the living wage, which now is $13.85 an hour, must not be less than the minimum wage.


Employers must pay wages earned to employees, except those specifically exempted, on regular paydays designated in advance by the employer and at least twice during each calendar month.


Employers may pay the following employees less than the District of Columbia minimum wage but not less than the federal minimum wage of $7.25: adult learners for the first 90 days of employment, students employed by institutions of higher education and minors younger than 18. Employers may pay disabled individuals less than the minimum wage rate if the lower rate is authorized by the U.S. Labor Department.

Tips & Gratuities

Effective July 1, 2018, the maximum tip credit that employers may take against the minimum wage is $9.17. If an employee’s hourly tip earnings (averaged weekly) added to the tip credit amount do not equal the minimum wage, the employer must pay the balance. This provision does not apply to employees unless they have been informed of it by their employer and they have retained all their tips, although the pooling of tips of employees who customarily receive tips is acceptable.


Employers with tipped workers are required to quarterly report that workers were paid the required minimum wage using an Internet-based portal that is to be created and reporting-requirement training provided by the mayor. Employers that claim such reporting would cause a hardship may be allowed to submit the report in hard copy.


The tipped workers’ hourly minimum wage is to increase to  $3.89 on July 1, 2018; $4.45 on July 1, 2019; and to $5 on July 1, 2020. Thereafter, the hourly minimum wage is to be annually adjusted for inflation.

Meal Breaks

Employers may deduct $2.12 for each meal made available. For four (4) hours or less of work, a maximum of one (1) meal deduction is allowed. For over four (4) hours of work, a maximum of two (2) meal deductions is allowed. For employees that live on the employer’s premises, no more than $6.36 per day can be deducted.

Special Leave

Accrued Sick and Safe Leave

Under the District of Columbia’s Accrued Sick and Safe Leave Act, employers must provide employees with paid leave to care for their own or their family members’ illnesses, injuries or medical conditions and to obtain medical diagnoses or care for themselves or their family members. The law also requires employers to provide employees with paid leave for certain reasons if they or their family members are victims of stalking, domestic violence or sexual abuse.

    • 1 to 24 employees must provide each employee at least one hour of paid sick leave for every 87 hours worked, up to a maximum of three days per the calendar year;
    • 25 to 99 employees must provide each employee at least one hour of paid sick leave for every 43 hours worked, up to a maximum of five days per the calendar year;
    • 100 or more employees must provide each employee at least one hour of paid sick leave for every 37 hours worked, up to a maximum of seven days per the calendar year.

Accrual of paid leave is determined by the type of business, the number of employees an employer has, and the number of hours an employee works. For tipped employees of restaurants or bars, regardless of the number of employees the employer has, each tipped employee must accrue at least one (1) hour per 43 hours worked, up to five (5) days per the calendar year and be paid at the full minimum wage rate.

Paid Family Leave: Coming in July 2019

On February 17, 2017, the Universal Paid Leave Amendment Act was enacted, which provides annual paid leave to eligible employees:

  • Up to 2 weeks for their own serious health condition; or
  • Up to 6 weeks for their family member’s serious health condition and up to eight weeks for reasons related to the birth of their child or the legal placement of a child with them.

Beginning by July 1, 2019, paid leave benefits are funded through employer contributions equal to 0.62 percent of each covered employee’s wages.

DC Family Medical Leave

The District of Columbia Family and Medical Leave Act (‘DCFMLA’) requires employers with 20 or more employees to provide eligible employees with 16 weeks of unpaid family leave and 16 weeks of unpaid medical leave during a 24 month period. An employee is eligible under the Act if she or he has been employed by the employer for at least one year without a break in service, and worked at least 1,000 hours during the 12 month period immediately preceding the requested leave. The one year of service requirement does not need to have immediately preceded the request for leave. Eligible circumstances for family leave under DCFMLA include the birth of a child, adopting a child, or caring for a child in foster care. Caring for a seriously ill family member is also eligible for family leave.

Medical Leave

Eligible circumstances for medical leave under the District of Columbia Family and Medical Leave Act (‘DCFMLA’) include reasons such as recovering from a serious illness rendering the employee unable to work. Leave under DCFMLA may be taken in blocks of time, intermittently, and in certain circumstances, at a reduced schedule. Employees can also use any accrued time instead of unpaid leave. The employer may require medical certification and reasonable prior notice when applicable.

Parental Leave

The District of Columbia Parental Leave Act allows employees who are parents or guardians to take 24 hours of leave (paid or unpaid) during a 12 month period to attend school-related activities. School events include but are not limited to:

  • Parent-teacher conferences;
  • Concerts;
  • Plays;
  • Rehearsals,
  • Sporting Events; and
  • Other activities where the child is a participant or the subject of the event, not a spectator.

The employee must notify the employer 10 days before the requested leave unless the school-related activity was not reasonably foreseeable. The leave can be unpaid or paid family, vacation, personal, compensatory or leave bank leave. The employer may deny the leave if granting the leave would disrupt the employer’s business and make the achievement of production or service unusually difficult.

Jury Duty Leave

An employer shall not deprive an employee of employment, threaten, or otherwise coerce an employee with respect to employment because the employee receives a summons, responds to a summons, serves as a juror, or attends Court for prospective jury service.

Donor Leave

City employees are allowed up to 30 days of paid leave for organ donation. (§1–612.03b).


If a private employer offers a donor paid leave, it may claim a tax credit equal to 25% of a donor’s salary during a period of up to 30 days for organ donation. (§47–1807.08).

Last updated on: February 7th, 2019