Reminder: Employer Reporting for DC Parking Cashout Law Due January 15, 2023
December 06, 2022
By January 15, 2023, all employers with 20 or more employees who work at least 50% of their working time in the district (“covered employees”) must submit a report to the District Department of Transportation regarding their compliance with or exemption from the DC Parking Cashout Law of 2020. The report is due every two years thereafter.
The reporting system, called “Commutifi,” is now live. For instructions on how to complete and submit the reporting, please refer to the district’s DC Parking Cashout Law Toolkit, page 11 and 12. In addition to the reporting requirement, the DC Parking Cashout Law requires employers with at least 20 covered employees that offer free or subsidized parking to their employees to either offer a clean air fringe benefit to employees receiving the parking benefit, develop a transportation demand management plan, or pay a clean air compliance fee.
Please note that the Cashout Law is in addition to the Employer Commuter Requirement. Since January 1, 2016, employers with 20 or more employees in DC must offer access to one or more of the transit benefit options.
For additional information about the DC Parking Cashout Law, see the August 30, 2022, edition of Compliance Corner.
Commutifi (The Reporting Dashboard) »
DC Parking Cashout Law Toolkit »
Coverage for Medically Necessary Food
November 08, 2022
After passage by the DC Council in June 2022, approval by Mayor Bowser in July 2022, and the required review by the US Congress, Bill 24-0171 has become law. Under the new law, health insurance policies are required to provide coverage for medically necessary food as prescribed for certain diseases and conditions, including Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, inflammatory bowel disease, gastroesophageal reflux disease that is nonresponsive to standard medical therapies, malabsorption due to liver or pancreatic disease, and food protein-induced enterocolitis syndrome. The coverage must be treated at least the same as other conditions regarding cost-sharing requirements.
Bill 24-0171 »
Transportation Program Requirements for Employers
August 30, 2022
By January 15, 2023, certain Washington, DC employers must report their compliance with the DC Parking Cashout Law of 2020. The reporting will cover future compliance. When available, the report templates will be available on the District Department of Transportation website.
The Cashout Law applies to employers with 20 or more employees in the district who offer free or subsidized parking benefits to employees. To comply, covered employers must implement one of the following compliance options:
- Offer a Clean Air Transportation Fringe Benefit. Offer the equivalent value in benefits to covered employees who do not drive to work in the form of a transit subsidy, increased compensation, and/or a healthcare contribution.
- Implement a transportation demand management (TDM) plan. Create a District Department of Transportation (DDOT)-approved TDM plan and reduce employees’ commuter trips made by car by at least 10% year over year until 25% or less of employees’ commuter trips are made by car.
- Pay a Clean Air Compliance fee to DDOT. Pay $100 per employee per month for employees offered a parking benefit.
Please note that the Cashout Law is in addition to the Employer Commuter Requirement. Since January 1, 2016, employers with 20 or more employees in DC must offer access to one or more of the transit benefit options. All employees working 50% or more of their service time in DC are counted in the following transit benefit options:
- Employee pays pre-tax contributions for transit benefits.
- Employer pays transit benefit costs for employees (either through reimbursement or the provision of pre-paid metro cards).
- Employer provides transportation through a shuttle or vanpool.
To comply, employers must:
- Notify employees of the available transit benefit program.
- Provide information to covered employees on how to apply and receive benefits.
- Issue benefits to covered employees who request or apply for them.
- Maintain records to establish compliance with the requirements.
- Record that notice was given to employees.
- Provide records showing that elected benefits were provided.
DC employers should review both sets of requirements and comply as necessary.
Cashout Law Information and Reporting »
Employer Commuter Benefits Toolkit »
Paid Family Leave Expanded with Reduced Employer Contributions
March 15, 2022
Annually, the Office of the Chief Financial Officer (OCFO) is required to review the Universal Paid Leave Fund for solvency. On March 1, 2022, the OCFO announced that the current employer contribution rate and benefits would result in a surplus of $500 million. Subsequently, the OCFO announced a reduction in the employer contribution from 0.62% of wages to 0.26%.
The maximum leave will also increase from eight weeks per year to twelve weeks. As a reminder, eligible employees may take up to eight weeks for parental leave, six weeks for their own medical condition, and six weeks for family care. For those who qualify, there are two weeks specifically for prenatal/ pregnancy leave, which is in addition to the current eight weeks annual maximum and will be in addition to the newly increased 12 weeks maximum.
The changes are effective July 1, 2022, but the Department of Employment Services has indicated that they may not be ready to implement the changes that quickly.
Employers should revise their leave policies and payroll systems as necessary.
OCFC Memo »
Vaccination Leave Requirements Extended
March 01, 2022
Since March 2020, employers of all sizes have been required to provide unpaid leave under DCFMLA to employees for reasons related to COVID-19. Separately, since November 18, 2021, employers of all sizes have been required to provide two hours of paid leave for employees receiving (or their child receiving) a COVID-19 vaccination and an additional eight hours of paid leave in the following 24-hour period for vaccination recovery. Both requirements were set to expire on February 16, 2022, and were previously reported in Compliance Corner. On February 3, 2022, Mayor Bowser signed Act 24-319, which extends both provisions until May 4, 2022.
Act 24-319 »
Paid Vaccination Leave
January 04, 2022
On November 18, 2021, Mayor Bowser signed the COVID Vaccination Leave Emergency Amendment Act of 2021 into law, which contains two primary provisions.
First, it extends the existing requirement for employers to provide unpaid leave under DC FMLA for reasons related to COVID-19. This requirement has been in place since March 2020, was set to expire November 5, 2021, and was previously featured in Compliance Corner. It applies to employers of all sizes.
Employees are eligible for up to 16 weeks of unpaid leave in a 24-month period if they have worked for the employer for at least 30 days and experience one of the following qualifying reasons: the employee or a household member is under a government or health care provider’s order to quarantine, or the employee needs to care for a child whose school or daycare center is closed due to COVID-19. (Note: DC FMLA generally applies only to employers with 20 or more employees working in the district, with employees eligible only after 12 months and 1,000 hours of service.)
Secondly, the Emergency Amendment Act requires employers of all sizes to provide two hours of paid leave for employees receiving (or their child receiving) a COVID-19 vaccination and an additional eight hours of paid leave in the following 24-hour period for vaccination recovery. This requirement was effective November 18, 2021, and is set to expire February 16, 2022, unless extended.
Employers with employees working in the district should be aware of these requirements.
COVID Vaccination Leave Emergency Amendment Act of 2021 »
Expansion of D.C. PFML Benefits; Extension of Offsetting Prohibition
October 12, 2021
As part of the Fiscal Year 2022 Budget Support Emergency Act of 2021, the following changes were made to D.C. Paid Family and Medical Leave benefits effective October 1, 2021 – September 30, 2022:
- Paid medical leave increased from 2 weeks per 12 months to 6 weeks for leaves starting on or after September 26, 2021.
- The normal 7-day unpaid waiting period is waived.
- The benefit calculations increased based on the employee’s highest four-quarter earnings out of the most recent 10 quarters (as opposed to the previous calculation of the highest four quarters out of the most recent five quarters).
- Miscarriage and stillbirth were added as qualifying reasons for medical leave.
- Pre-natal leave was added as a new qualifying leave category providing two weeks of paid leave benefits.
The Emergency Act also extends the prohibition of short-term disability policies reducing benefits (also known as offsetting benefits) based on an insured’s receipt of medical leave benefits from the district. As previously reported, this prohibition was initially effective May 2021 and was temporary. Under the new law, the prohibition will remain in place until at least September 30, 2022.
The Department of Employment Services is expected to publish a revised PFML poster in the coming weeks. Employers should revise their leave policies as necessary.
D.C. Fiscal Year 2022 Budget Support Emergency Act of 2021 »
Coordination of Short-Term Disability and PFML Benefits
July 07, 2021
On May 26, 2021, DC Mayor Bowser signed B24-0185 into law. Enacted as Emergency Act 24-0090, which is effective immediately and expiring August 24, 2021, the new law prohibits short-term disability policies issued in DC from offsetting or reducing benefits based on DC Paid Family and Medical Leave payments.
Unfortunately, we have no additional guidance at this time as to how this provision will be administered. It is common for either the short-term disability policy or the state PFL program to offset benefits so that the employee does not receive more than 100% of their normal wages while on leave. In DC, an employer cannot interfere with an employee's right to PFML benefits. Thus, DC PFML benefits do not coordinate with short-term disability policies. In other words, DC PFML pays primary. This has resulted in short-term disabilities policies paying secondary to PFML with reduced benefits. However, the new law prohibits this practice.
We will continue to monitor this issue and report any developments. Employers should work with their advisor and short-term disability insurers to make any necessary changes to leave policies, documents and operations.
Emergency Act 24-0090 »
Pregnancy as a Qualifying Event
May 11, 2021
The DC Council has adopted an ordinance that creates a new qualifying event for an insured to enroll in coverage mid-year based upon pregnancy. The enrollment period extends to 30 days following the date of pregnancy confirmation, as certified by a healthcare professional. It appears that the event would extend to any individual eligible under the group health plan who becomes pregnant including the employee, domestic partner, spouse or child. After review by Mayor Bowser and the US Congress, the law was effective October 20, 2020.
Importantly, pregnancy is not a recognized qualifying event under Section 125. Thus, if an employee adds coverage mid-year under this event, any associated employee contributions will likely need to be deducted on a post-tax basis.
D.C. Law 23-135. Pregnancy as a Qualifying Event Act of 2020 »
Declaration of Emergency Leave
April 14, 2020
On March 17, 2020, the City Council approved the COVID-19 Response Emergency Amendment Act. The act added a new category of leave to the existing D.C. FMLA. The declaration of emergency (DOE) leave is available to employees who are unable to work during a period of time where the mayor has declared a public health emergency; and the employee has self-quarantined or isolated due to a recommendation or order by a health care provider, federal/state official, or the mayor.
Unlike existing D.C. FMLA, the DOE leave applies to employers of any size with an employee performing work in the district. Additionally, employees do not have to meet any service requirements to be eligible. The amount of unpaid leave is indefinite for the period of the public health emergency.
COVID-19 Response Emergency Amendment Act »