On April 7, 2017, the Universal Paid Leave Act became law in the District of Columbia. It was originally introduced as Bill B21-0415 in October 2015. It was approved by the city council on Dec. 20, 2016. Mayor Bowser opposed the bill and returned it unsigned on Feb. 2, 2017. Unique to the District, any approved acts are subject to a 30 day review by the U.S. Congress. If no action is taken by Congress, the act becomes law, which is what happened with this bill. The act became law on April 7, 2017 after no action from the Mayor or Congress.
The new law establishes a paid leave system for all individuals who work within the District at least 50 percent of their work time. Employees of the federal government are excluded from eligibility. Employees will be eligible for up to a total of 16 weeks of paid leave for absences related to a serious health condition of the employee (two weeks), serious health condition of a family member (six weeks) and parental bonding time with a new child (eight weeks). The term family member includes a biological, adopted, foster or stepchild; a domestic partner and child of a domestic partner; parent, stepparent, grandparent or parent-in-law; and sibling. It also includes an individual who stood in loco parentis to the employee or a child for whom the employee stands in loco parentis.
Benefits will be paid by the Family and Medical Leave Fund, which will be funded by employers. Beginning in July 2019, employers will contribute an amount equal to 0.62 percent of employee wages. Employees will be eligible to file for claims beginning July 1, 2020 with a maximum weekly benefit of $1,000.
The benefits run concurrently with FMLA and D.C. FMLA and the new act does not provide additional job protection beyond that provided by those laws.
Proposed regulations, which will provide greater detail, are to be released by October 2017. We will report any developments in future issues of Compliance Corner.