In the DC Metropolitan area, employees often live in DC, Maryland, or Virginia, yet work for an employer based in one of the other locations. In our current environment, many employees work remotely from their homes when they previously worked out of an employer’s office based in a nearby jurisdiction. Those living and working in DC may wonder whether DC’s employee-friendly laws are applicable to them. One such program administered by DC’s Department of Employment Services (DOES) is DC Paid Family Leave (DC PFL). So, are employees who work in Virginia but live in DC eligible for DC PFL?
An employee of a DC-based employer who works mostly within the District is eligible for DC PFL, so long as the employee does not work 50-percent of the time in another jurisdiction.
Employees covered by DC PFL are entitled to up to two weeks’ paid leave for prenatal care purposes, 12 weeks’ paid leave to bond with a new child, 12 weeks’ paid leave to care for a family member suffering a serious health condition, and 12 weeks’ paid leave to care for one’s own serious health condition.
DOES’s Office of Paid Family Leave (OPFL) administers this program. Since 2019, covered employers have paid into the program through taxes collected by the DC government, and DOES OPFL has administered this program since 2020. After advising employers of a need for leave, covered employees may apply for DC PFL through DOES OPFL’s web portal or over telephone, and DC OPFL calculates the benefit amount and pays the employees their benefits directly.
Employees of covered employers who work more than 50-percent of the time within the District, or employees who mostly work in DC but not more than 50-percent of time in another jurisdiction, are eligible for DC PFL if they experience a covered event. Covered employers are those required to pay DC unemployment insurance taxes and self-employed folks who chose to pay into the DC PFL program. Covered events include parental, family, medical, and prenatal leave.
The Universal Paid Leave Amendment Act of 2016 established DC PFL, and while it provides for paid leave in certain instances, it does not offer job protection for those who take DC PFL. Other employment laws not addressed herein, such as the Family Medical Leave Act or the Americans with Disabilities Act, provide such protections. Rather, the DC PFL law guarantees paid leave benefits to covered employees of covered employers for specific covered events.
Within a 52-week period, beginning the week paid leave benefits are first payable, eligible employees are entitled to receive a total of 12 weeks of paid leave for the following (with one caveat explained below):
For employees who take two weeks of Prenatal Leave, they are also permitted to take 12 weeks of Family Leave, for a total of 14 weeks’ paid leave. Employees taking Prenatal Leave and Medical Leave, however, are limited to 12 weeks of paid leave total.
Parental Leave is for bonding purposes and available to employees whose child was born, placed for adoption, placed for foster care, or otherwise placed legally under an employee’s responsibility within the past year.
Family Leave is available to employees whose loved one(s) require care or companionship after experiencing and requiring treatment for an illness, injury, or impairment. Family members include an employee’s child, parent, grandparent, spouse, or subling.
Medical Leave is available to employees who suffer from their own illness, injury, or impairment that requires hospitalization or treatment, including pregnancy.
Prenatal Leave is available to pregnant employees with a medical need to address prenatal matters prior to the birth of a child. Employees who take two weeks of Prenatal Leave, they are also eligible to take the full 12 weeks of Parental Leave to bond with the child for a total of 14 weeks. Employees who take 2 weeks of Prenatal Leave are not, however, would not be eligivle to take a full 12 weeks of Medical or Family Leave within the same 52-week period.
In addition to meeting the definition of “covered employee” as described above, employees are eligible for DC PFL so long as they are employed at the time of application for benefits with wages reported by the covered employer. If a DC PFL applicant is receiving unemployment insurance benefits, he or she will not be eligible for DC PFL.
There is no length of service requirement to receive DC PFL.
Covered employees receiving DC PFL benefits are limited to 12 weeks total of paid leave in a 52-week period, unless the employee is combining Prenatal leave and Parental Leave, whereby they are eligible to receive a total of 14 weeks total of paid leave benefits.
How Can an Employee Living in Virginia Seek Paid Family Leave from a Covered Employer in DC?
An employee of a DC-based employer living in Virginia is eligible for DC PFL so long as they are working 50-percent of the time in DC or most of their time is working in DC without spending 50-percent of their time working in Virginia (or any other jurisdiction for 50-percent of the time).
In other words, an employee living in Virginia and working for a DC-based employer is not eligible for DC PFL if they work remotely from their home in Virginia or in a Virginia-based office more than 50-percent of their time spent working.
If you are an employer seeking assistance with determining when or if your employees are eligible for DC PFL, do not hestiate contacting The Lipp Law Firm.
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