As we previously reported in last month’s newsletter, New York, New Jersey and several other jurisdictions are enacting legislation requiring employers to offer sick leave to employees. Now our nation’s capital joins the trend by bolstering its existing legislation.

The District of Colombia has signed into law the Earned Sick & Leave Amendment Act  expanding several aspects of DC’s existing Accrued Sick and Safe Leave Act of 2008, which already provided certain DC employees with the right to earn paid leave for physical or mental illness, preventative care, family care, parental leave and absences connected to a domestic or sexual violence or stalking incident. 

Under the Act, which took effect at the end of February 2014, employees will begin to accrue leave from the first day of employment and will be permitted to use accrued leave after working 90 days, instead of the previously required one year of service. Once excluded under the 2008 statute, tipped restaurant and bar employees will now also receive an hour of paid leave for every 43 hours worked, up to a total limit of five days per year. In addition, employers must now specify whether accrued paid leave can be carried over to the next year and whether it will be paid out upon termination. 

The Act goes further by expanding the definition of “employer” to include any entity that directly or indirectly employs or exercises control over the wages, hours, or working conditions of employment, including through use of temporary workers or a staffing agency. The Act also contains expansive anti-retaliation protections and private right of action for employees, and dramatically increases the penalties imposed on employers for noncompliance. 

It remains to be seen how existing regulations implementing the 2008 legislation will be affected.  At a minimum, employers should review existing policies and procedures, as well as leave tracking and recordkeeping procedures so as to implement the necessary changes as soon as possible and ensure timely compliance. We are happy to assist you in the interim as to what steps should be taken in preparation for such implementation.