Work in D.C.? You’re Probably Entitled to Paid Sick Leave
Many D.C. workers are told by their bosses that they cannot take time off to deal with medical or family problems — even emergencies.
Or, if they are allowed to take time off, their employer forces them to take unpaid leave.
Generally speaking, this is illegal.
In fact, the District of Columbia Accrued Safe and Sick Leave Act requires most employers to provide their D.C. employees with paid “safe and sick leave.” Not just leave, but paid leave.
That’s right. Broke your ankle playing soccer this weekend? Need to take your child to the doctor tomorrow? Then under D.C. law, you may be entitled to paid time off.
What Does “Safe and Sick” Leave in D.C. Include?
“Safe and sick” leave not only includes leave for an employee’s emergency medical problems, but can also include leave to deal with many other medical-related or family-related problems.
It can include:
- absence related to physical illness or injury;
- absence related to mental illness;
- absence related to regular, preventative medical care;
- absence related to caring for a sick family member;
- absence related to stalking or domestic violence; and
- many other situations that relate to the health and safety of an employee and his family.
How Much Paid Leave Do I Get?
The Act provides that eligible employees earn paid “safe and sick” leave based on the size of their employer. Though employees accumulate leave as soon as they are hired, they are not entitled to use this leave until they have worked for 90 days.
|Provision of Paid Leave in D.C.|
|Employer Size||Hours of Leave Earned||Maximum Earned|
|100 or more employees||1 for every 37 hours worked||7 days per year|
|25-99 employees||1 for every 43 hours worked||5 days per year|
|1-24 employees||1 for every 87 hours worked||3 days per year|
Do Restaurant Workers Get Paid Leave?
Most D.C. restaurant employees are entitled to paid safe and sick leave. The Act was amended several years ago to ensure that restaurant workers also receive paid leave under the Act. Don’t let anyone tell you that just because you work at a restaurant, you are not entitled to paid “safe and sick” leave.
This includes “tipped employees” who receive the lower, tipped employee minimum wage. Restaurants are required to provide tipped employees with 1 hour of paid leave for every 43 hours worked, up to 5 days. And the Act requires that this leave be paid at the regular minimum wage (as of the date of this article, $11.50 per hour).
Are There Exceptions to D.C.’s “Safe and Sick” Leave Laws?
The District of Columbia Accrued Safe and Sick Leave Act is a worker-friendly law, but it is a complicated one. And it does not give employees a blank check to take paid time off without notice.
For example: the Act requires an employee to “make a reasonable effort to schedule paid leave…in a manner that does not unduly disrupt the operations of the employer.”
If you have questions about your rights under the Act, contact us now for a free and confidential case evaluation.