As we’ve previously reported, paid family leave laws have been sweeping the country. While employees will not become eligible to take paid family leave (PFL) under the District of Columbia’s Universal Paid Leave Amendment Act (UPLA) until July 1, 2020, employers must begin complying with the law’s notice requirements on January 1, 2020. The law contains multiple notice requirements for employers and a failure to comply may result in significant penalties.
Beginning January 1, 2020, DC employers will be required to provide notice about PFL to:
(1) all new employees within thirty (30) days of hire (either in paper or electronic form);
(2) all employees at all times (via a physical posting in a conspicuous place for each worksite);
(3) all employees annually (either in paper or electronic form); and
(4) each covered worker at the time the employer learns that PFL may be needed (either in paper or electronic form).
The physical poster, which should be posted this week on the PFL website, must be kept in a conspicuous place at each work site where labor notices are customarily posted. Covered workers who work remotely or primarily telework must be sent the poster in electronic form so they can hang the poster at their individual work sites.
Under the PFL law, a work site is any location where business is conducted or where services or operations are performed, meaning that some employers may need to post multiple notices in the same building (e.g., in each breakroom if a company has separate breakrooms and employees would be unlikely to see a poster in another floor’s or department’s breakroom). There is a $100 per day penalty for failing to post the physical notice to employees.
Employers must also provide each new covered worker with the same PFL notice within thirty (30) days of hire and all covered workers with the notice annually, both of which may be sent out electronically. Employers are responsible for establishing that they have complied with all notice requirements. For the individual and annual notices, compliance can be established by maintaining email receipts or signed acknowledgements from covered workers confirming receipt of the notice. There is a $100 per employee penalty for failing to meet individual notice requirements.
Finally, employers must provide the PFL notice each time they become aware that a covered worker may need to take PFL. Employees are not required to formally request PFL and need not even be aware of their eligibility for PFL or even know if they will actually take time off of work when they provide notice to their employers. Employees are only required to provide direct notice of the underlying need for leave, which may be provided by a family member, coworker, or another person when a covered worker is unable to give direct notice because of an emergency. Notification to a manager may be sufficient to demonstrate that the “employer” was notified of the need for leave.
An employer who fails to meet the individual notice requirements will be subject to a $100 per employee penalty.
When PFL benefits become available, covered workers will be eligible for the following benefits:
As a reminder, covered workers for purposes of PFL benefits means:
The DC Department of Employment Services (DOES) will manage applications for benefits and make eligibility determinations. Covered workers will receive benefits on a sliding scale based on income, up to 90% of their average weekly wage and a maximum of $1,000 per week of leave. Employers are not required to pay the difference between the PFL benefit and a worker’s normal pay, but can elect to coordinate their paid leave policies with PFL to help employees receive full wage replacement. Employers who already provide paid leave or other benefits such as short-term disability for the life events covered by PFL should review their policies before July 1, 2020, to ensure that their policies comport with and, where desired, coordinate with the PFL law and benefits.