Page Reviewed / Updated – June 05, 2020

Program Description

Please make note, the District of Columbia’s Universal Paid Leave Act is not yet implemented. At the time of this writing, it is expected to be in effect in July of 2020. Program information on this page will be updated as more information becomes available.

The District of Columbia’s Universal Paid Leave Act (when it goes live July 1st, 2020) will allow up to 16 weeks of paid leave for employees taking time off work to care for a loved one. However, persons caring for elderly relatives will not be eligible for the full 16 weeks which break down as follows; 6 weeks of family leave, 2 weeks of personal medical leave, and 8 weeks of parental leave.

Parental leave (to care for a new child) is not relevant for caregivers of aging seniors, nor is medical leave (for employees who need a leave from work due to a personal medical issue). Family leave is relevant for employees who wish to provide care for an elderly relative, such as a parent, 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, and so forth. For the purpose of this article, the focus will be strictly on paid medical leave to care for an elderly relative.

The District of Columbia’s Universal Paid Leave Act will be funded via an increase of 0.62% in DC employer payroll taxes. This increase in taxes began July 1st, 2019.

Eligibility Guidelines

For employees to qualify for paid family leave, they must work for a “covered employer”, meaning the employer pays unemployment insurance for their employees, in the District of Columbia. Employees do not have to live in DC to be covered by the Universal Paid Leave Act. (For instance, eligible employees may live in Virginia or Maryland). However, employees must work more than 50% of the time in DC. One exception is DC employees who work for the District or the federal government; they are not covered under this act. In certain cases, self-employed DC workers may opt into this program.

Employees who have a covered employer must work at least a portion of the 52 weeks preceding the requested leave. Those who are self-employed must have opted into the program and worked mostly in DC at least part of the 52 weeks prior to requesting paid leave.

To be granted paid family leave, the following must be provided by the employee:

  • Medical documentation of their relative’s health condition. This may be a physical or mental ailment which requires ongoing, long term care or an acute injury.
  • The period of time they plan to take leave.
  • Evidence of their relationship with the care recipient. A relative is defined as a parent (biological, adopted, or foster), a stepparent, 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.
  • 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.

If one is receiving self-employment income, 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 6 weeks of paid family leave to care for a relative with a serious health issue. 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 DC ($13.25 / hour in 2019) will receive 90% of their average weekly pay.

Employees who earn more than 150% of the minimum wage in DC will receive 90% of 150% of the minimum wage. In addition, the employee will get 50% of the amount their average weekly income exceeds the 150% mark. The maximum benefit amount any caregiver can receive is $1,000 / week.

Paid family leave may be taken on an intermittent or continuous basis. Meaning the person taking leave could take 6 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

As previously mentioned, paid family leave is set to be available starting in July of 2020. 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.

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