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Employment Law Alert – D.C. Expands Universal Paid Leave and Family and Medical Leave Benefits

October 21, 2021

Effective October 1, 2021, the D.C. City Council enacted emergency legislation that would expand the benefits available to employees under the D.C. Universal Paid Leave Act (UPLA) and the D.C. Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).  Although emergency legislation ordinarily expires after 90 days, Mayor Bowser also signed legislation to make these changes permanent following the completion of the required 30-day Congressional review period. Therefore, barring any (unanticipated) action by Congress, D.C. employers should expect these changes to become permanent.
 
The new legislation makes the following significant changes:
 
Changes to the D.C. UPLA
  • Increased Medical Leave: Amount of available medical leave increased to 6 weeks (previously 2)
  • Prenatal Leave: New category added in addition to medical leave; up to 2 weeks of additional leave permitted for “routine and specialty appointments, exams and treatments associated with pregnancy provided by a health care provider, including prenatal checkups, ultrasounds, treatment for pregnancy complications, bedrest that is required and prescribed by a healthcare provider and prenatal physical therapy.”
  • Stillbirth/Miscarriage:  Expressly allows for leave to be used in the event of a stillbirth or miscarriage (previously only implied)
  • Retroactive Application:  Benefits apply retroactively if applied for within 30 days of qualifying leave event unless employee unable to apply due to exigent circumstances
Exigent circumstances include:
  • Employee lacks physical or mental capacity to file a claim
  • Employee unable to reasonably access means to file a claim
  • Employer fails to provide employee with notice of employee’s right to file a claim
NOTE:  UPLA leave durations can be increased/decreased annually based on the funds previously collected and available for that year (subject to a “floor” amount equal to that offered in 2021).
 
Changes to the D.C. FMLA
  • Employees are now eligible if they have worked at least 1,000 hours for the same employer over a period of 12 consecutive or non-consecutive months in the 7 preceding years
 

MORE INFORMATION

The contents of this Alert are for informational purposes only and do not constitute legal advice. If you have any questions about this Alert, please contact the Shulman Rogers attorney with whom you regularly work or a member of the Shulman Rogers Employment and Labor Law Group.