Page Reviewed / Updated – Oct. 25, 2022

Program Description

The District of Columbia’s Universal Paid Leave Act provides paid leave in four categories: Prenatal Leave, Parental Leave, Medical Leave, and Family Leave. The family leave category allows employees to take time off work to care for a loved one without sacrificing income. Beginning Oct. 1, 2022, the amount of possible paid leave increased to 12 weeks in a 52-week period. However, leave time in the family leave category is limited to six weeks in a year.

Family leave is relevant for employees who wish to provide care for an elderly relative with a serious health issue. Conditions for an employee’s family leave will vary, but may include a relative’s diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, a broken hip, etc. For the purpose of this article, the focus will be strictly on paid family leave to care for an elderly relative.

The District of Columbia’s Universal Paid Leave Act is funded via an increase of 0.62% in D.C. employer payroll taxes. This increase in taxes began July 1, 2019.

Eligibility Guidelines

To qualify for paid family leave, employees must meet the following requirements:

  • Work for a “covered employer,” meaning the employer pays unemployment insurance for their employees.
  • Have a family member with a “serious health condition” for which the family member requires your care.
  • In order for a health condition to be considered serious, one of the following criteria must be met:

  1. The condition involved at least one night in a hospital, hospice or residential care facility. OR
  2. The condition caused an inability to work or perform regular activities for three days and required a medical provider. OR
  3. The condition is chronic and causes the occasional inability to work or perform regular activities and requires a medical provider at least twice a year. OR
  4. The condition is incurable and treatment is not effective, which causes the inability work or perform daily activities. OR
  5. The condition requires surgery to restore functional capacity after an injury or accident and it requires multiple treatments for that injury.
  • Be an employee who spends a majority of their working hours within the District.
  • If self-employed, you must have opted into the Paid Family Leave program and spent at least 50% of your working hours in D.C.

If one is receiving long-term disability payments or unemployment insurance benefits they cannot also receive paid leave.

Benefits and Services

The District of Columbia’s Universal Paid Leave Act will allow an employee to take up to six weeks of paid family leave to care for a relative with a serious health issue. Eligible family members include:

  • Your child
  • Your parent
  • Your spouse
  • Your grandparent
  • Your sibling

The amount an employee / caregiver will be paid during a paid family leave will be based on one’s current pay rate. Employees who earn up to 150% of the minimum wage in D.C. ($16.10 / hour in 2022) will receive 90% of their average weekly pay.

Employees who earn more than 150% of the minimum wage in D.C. will receive 90% of 150% of the minimum wage, plus 50% of their wages that exceed 150% of the minimum wage. The maximum benefit amount any caregiver can receive is $1,049 / week. Estimate your weekly benefits with the DOES’s benefits calculator.

Paid family leave may be taken on an intermittent or continuous basis. Meaning the person taking leave could take six consecutive weeks off, or one day a week off each week for 30 weeks or some other combination not exceeding 30 workdays.

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How to Apply / Learn More

Paid family leave can be applied for online through the benefits portal, by phone at 202-899-3700 or in person. Employees can expect to receive a determination letter within 10 days.

When applying for paid family leave, the following must be provided by the employee:

  • The employee’s full name, date of birth, Social Security number or ITIN, and contact info.
  • Name of employer’s business and contact info (unless self-employed).
  • Document (PFL-FMC), Family Leave Medical Certification. This form documents the relative’s health condition and needs to be completed by a health care provider.
  • The period of time the employee plans to take leave.
  • Evidence of their relationship with the care recipient. A relative is defined as a parent (biological, adopted, or foster), a step-parent, legal guardian, parent-in-law, or any other person who was legally responsible for the employee when they were a child. Spouses, domestic partners, grandparents, and siblings are also considered relatives. Acceptable documentation includes Document (PFL-FR), Certification of Family Relationship, birth certificates or court documents.
  • A statement that their leave is to care for a seriously ill relative.
  • A summary of the type of care they will provide for their relative during their paid leave.

Applying as soon as possible is advised. Employees have 30 days from the qualifying event to claim their benefits.

To learn more about the District of Columbia Paid Leave Act, click here or call the Office of Paid Family Leave at 202-899-3700.