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It’s October and the tree leaves aren’t the only leaves that have changed in Washington, D.C. Several important updates to the D.C. Paid Family Leave program recently became effective, including the permanent elimination of the benefit waiting period, contribution rate changes, expanded wage replacement benefits, and the publication of a revised mandatory employee notice by the Office of Paid Family Leave. Time to sit down with your pumpkin spice latte and your favorite HR professional to ensure that your impacted leave policies, postings and paperwork are updated and compliant, and your Paid Family Leave tax payments are timely and accurate.

One-Week Waiting Period Eliminated for D.C. Paid Family Leave Benefits

If any of this is sounding familiar, you may be flashing back to the dog days of summer when D.C. amended the Universal Paid Leave Amendment Act of 2016 (UPLAA) as part of its Fiscal Year 2023 Budget Support Act of 2022 (D.C. ACT 24-492). As a result, the one-week waiting period prior to receipt of Paid Family Leave benefits was eliminated for all claims filed on or after July 25, 2022. Note the waiting period had already been suspended temporarily as an emergency COVID-19-related measure. The change is now permanent.

Employer Premium Rate Decreased to 0.26% of Covered Wages

Also effective in July, the employer contribution rate – the premiums that fund paid leave benefits under the District-administered Paid Family Leave program – decreased from 0.62% to 0.26% of the employer’s covered employees’ total wages. The reduction was due to the existence of a surplus in the District’s Universal Paid Leave Fund. The first Paid Family Leave tax payments at the 0.26% rate are due October 31, 2022, for wages paid to covered employees between July 1, 2022, and September 30, 2022.

This rate reduction is welcome news to businesses with D.C. employees, as it lessens the program’s financial cost to employers. If you’re wondering why we don’t mention a change to the employee premium rate, it’s because D.C. employees are not required to make any financial contributions to the program.

Duration of Paid Leave Benefits Increased Effective October 1, 2022

The most monumental change to the D.C. Paid Family Leave program effected by the Fiscal Year 2023 Budget Support Act of 2022 is the increase in length of paid leave benefits for qualifying parental, family, and medical leaves. For claims filed on or after October 1, 2022, the maximum duration for each type of paid leave benefits within a 52-workweek period is now:

  • 12 workweeks of qualifying parental leave (previously 8 weeks);
  • 12 workweeks of qualifying family leave (previously 6 weeks);
  • 12 workweeks of qualifying medical leave (previously 6 weeks); and
  • 2 workweeks of qualifying prenatal leave (unchanged)

Keep in mind, the Paid Family Leave program contains stacking rules (and restrictions) when it comes to combining prenatal leave and parental leave versus medical leave.

Revised Mandatory Employee Notice Published by Office of Paid Family Leave

Finally, employers should note that the D.C. Office of Paid Family Leave published an updated Notice to Employees detailing employees’ rights and responsibilities under UPLAA, revised October 1, 2022. Employers are required to post the revised notice, and it must also be provided to employees at the following times: (a) to an individual employee within 30 days of the employee’s hiring; (b) annually to all employees; and (c) to an individual employee at the time direct notice from that employee is received that leave for a qualifying event is needed.

What Employers Should Do   

Employers should ensure that their impacted leave policies are updated and those employees fielding and managing leave requests are aware of the changes to the D.C. Paid Family Leave program. Additionally, employers should replace their posted Notice to Employees with the October 2022 version and confirm that they (or their third-party administrator, if applicable) are providing the up-to-date version to employees at the times required by law. Proactive employers may also want to affirmatively communicate the expansion of paid leave benefits to their existing covered employees as soon as possible, as it may impact decision-making for those on existing leaves or with an impending need for leave.

What ReedGroup Is Doing

ReedGroup continuously tracks and analyzes legislation and rulemaking related to state and District disability and PFML programs and ensures its associated leave plans and paperwork are up-to-date and compliant. If you’re looking for assistance managing leave of absence, disability benefits, or accommodations or to ensure compliance across your organization, ReedGroup has solutions for you. Review our offerings here.

Information provided on this blog is intended for general educational use. It is not intended to provide legal advice. ReedGroup does not provide legal services. Consult an attorney for legal advice on this or any other topic. 

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