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D.C. Paid Family Leave: Notice Requirements Are Effective February 1, 2020

Background on D.C. Universal Paid Family Leave

The D.C. government will begin to administer Universal Paid Family Leave (PFL) benefits starting July 1, 2020. The PFL system will provide virtually all D.C. employees—regardless of employer size—access to up to eight weeks of paid leave per 52-week cycle. Leave can be taken for a mix of parental (up to eight weeks), family sick (up to six weeks), and personal sick (up to two weeks) leave events.

Under the PFL system, benefits applications will be submitted to, and approved directly by, the D.C. Department of Employment Services (DOES), not employers. The program will provide up to $1000 per week in salary replacement. Employers are free to provide their own supplemental or coordinating benefits to, for example, provide 100 percent wage replacement, additional leave time beyond the PFL limits, and/or sick leave days for non-serious health events (which are not provided for under PFL). Employers must also continue to abide by other leave laws including FMLA, D.C. FMLA, and the D.C. Accrued Safe and Sick Leave Act.

New UPL Notice Requirements – Effective February 1, 2020

Starting February 1, 2020, D.C. employers will be required to provide both permanent and periodic PFL -related notices to their employees. The notice form—which DOES has made available on its website—provides employees with basic information about the PFL program.  

Permanent Notice (Physical Poster)

Employers must post the PFL notice form in a permanent, conspicuous physical location—generally in the same location as other labor law posters—by February 1, 2020.

  • For covered remote/telework employees, employers must send a copy of the poster to workers so they can hang it at their individual worksites.

  • For employers with multiple worksites, a PFL poster must hang at each site where business is conducted or where services or industrial operations are performed.

  • For employers with distinct and physically separate departments in the same building – for example, departments on different floors who do not share a common break room – a poster should hang in each separate department’s common space.

  • If your business has workers who perform business activities in many different locations, but those locations are not the business’ own worksites (e.g. workers who travel to customers’ homes), the PFL poster should hang in the District location where workers report to every day.

Periodic Notice

Employers must also provide the PFL notice form to employers at each of the following times:

1. Once annually to all employees – All employees must receive either a paper or electronic (i.e. attached to an email) version of the PFL notice at least once between February 1, 2020 and February 1, 2021, and at least once a year every following year.

2. To individual employees at the time of hire – A PFL notice must be provided to all new employees hired after February 1, 2020 within 30 days after hire. The notice can be in paper or electronic form.

3. To individual workers when they receive notice that a worker may need to use PFL – Employers must provide a PFL notice to individual workers whenever they are aware that leave is, or will be, needed by that individual.  

  • The worker does not need to submit a formal or written request for leave to trigger the notice requirement. If an employer becomes aware via circumstantial evidence that leave will be required, the employer must provide a leave notice. For example, an employee that informs their employer that they will be having major surgery in two weeks should subsequently receive a PFL notice from the employer, even if they did not explicitly ask to take leave when communicating that information.

  • The “awareness” threshold is triggered when an employee tells someone with supervisory authority that they are requesting leave or will have circumstances which will require them to take leave.

  • In an emergency situation, a family member, coworker, or another person may provide direct notice to the employer on the employee’s behalf, thereby triggering the notice requirement.

Employers should train supervisors, managers, and hiring personnel regarding these periodic notice requirements, especially the “event-triggered” requirement outlined above. Penalties for failing to provide PFL notice are $100 for each covered worker who didn’t receive an individual notice and/or $100 for each day that a covered employer failed to post the notice in a conspicuous place at each worksite.

For more information, browse the “Employers” section of the D.C. Office of Paid Family Leave’s website.