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March 10, 2008
District of Columbia Enacts Paid Sick Leave
The District of Columbia has just become one of the few jurisdictions nationwide to enact a paid sick leave law.

The duration of the leaves under the "Paid Sick and Safe Days Act of 2007" vary depending on the size of the workforce. Companies with 100 or more employees must provide at least one hour of paid leave for every 37 hours worked, up to a maximum of 7 days per calendar year. Those with 25 to 99 employees must provide at least one hour for every 43 hours worked, up to a maximum of 5 days per year. Those with 24 employees or fewer must provide one hour for every 87 hours worked, up to a maximum of 3 days per year.

Accrual of leave. Paid leave may accrue in accordance with employers' established pay periods. Employees may begin to use it after 90 days with a company. Unused accrued leave must be carried over annually. There is no requirement that paid leave be reimbursed when an employee leaves the company.

Reasons for leave. Employees may use accrued paid leave for absences resulting from the employee's own physical or mental illness, injury, or medical condition; or for the employee's own need to obtain preventive care or other professional medical diagnosis or care; or for parental leave purposes, as defined by and provided under current law. Leave is also available for the purposes of caring for a child, a parent, a spouse, or any other family member with physical or mental illnesses, injuries, or medical conditions, or who need to obtain medical care or diagnoses.

The act also covers absences related to stalking, domestic violence or sexual violence against an employee or family member, as long as the paid leave is directly related to social, medical or legal services stemming from the stalking or violence. Employees must make reasonable efforts to schedule the leaves so as not to unduly interrupt the employer's operations.

Employee request and notification requirements. If the request is for more than 3 consecutive days of leave, the employer may require the employee to provide "reasonable certification," which may include a written statement from a physician, a police report, or a statement from a victim advocate. The certification must be provided upon the employees' return to work.

Employer posting requirements. The bill requires the mayor to develop, and employers to post, notices setting forth the pertinent provisions of the new law and directions on filing complaints.

What happens next. All legislation enacted in the District must be voted on by the U.S. Congress within 60 days of the mayor's signing. It will then take effect 6 months after the completion of the congressional review.

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