The District of Columbia has issued new final regulations for the District’s Family and Medical Leave Act (DC FMLA, D.C. Official Code 32-501 et seq.), effective November 19, 2010.
While many provisions of the rules are not new and were included in the Act and in prior regulations, there is new material of which employers need to be aware. The new regulations still apply to employers with 20 or more employees in the District and cover employees who have worked at least 1,000 hours in the last 12 months. (Paid time for holidays, vacation, sick leave, etc. are counted in the 1,000 hours.) However, new provisions explain additional employment conditions: the requirement that an employee work within the District at least 50% of his/her work time (or otherwise satisfy the qualifications for being employed “in” the District), and explanations of “continuous service” and the “7-year break in service” limitation to the service requirement. (Sec. 1603.1, 1603.2, 1603.5)
The leaves available are 16 weeks per 24-month period for an employee’s serious health condition, and 16 weeks per 24-month period for family leave (birth of a child, adoption, or other permanent placement of a child with the employee, or to care for a ”family member” who has a serious health condition.) Family leave still may be taken in a continuous block or on an intermittent or reduced schedule basis when medically necessary. Family leave related to the birth or placement of a child, however, may be taken by agreement on a reduced leave schedule over a period not to exceed 24 consecutive months. (Sec. 1606.4). This agreed upon extended leave, previously available for any family leave, is now limited to child bonding. Also, “family member” now includes a foster child. (Sec. 1699.1)
Changes to employer notice requirements include providing an employee with a written “eligibility letter” within 5 days of the employee’s leave request or notice that the employee needs time off for a qualifying reason detailing the eligibility qualifications identified in the final rule. (Sec. 1613.4) Employers are also required to provide written notice within 5 days of receipt of medical certification of the leave’s designation as DC FMLA or federal FMLA. (Sec. 1613.6) There are also new employer recordkeeping responsibilities which require documenting extensive leave information on an annual basis. (Sec. 1617.6)
Employers must make DC FMLA information available to employees by posting it and including it in its employee handbook or manual. Posting includes displaying a hard copy in a conspicuous place frequented by employees or an electronic copy on the employer’s website. (Sec. 1613.20) Compliance Poster Company’s Washington D.C. All-On-One poster (#83748) features the mandatory DC FMLA notice.