Quick Hit:  The temporary expansion of the DC Family and Medical Leave Act to provide D.C. employees up to 16 weeks of unpaid, job-protected “COVID-19 leave” has been extended through October 9, 2020.   The D.C. Office of Human Rights has published an updated notice reflecting the extended effective date, which employers “must post and maintain . . . in a conspicuous place and transmit it to employees working remotely.”  Note that should the Mayor extend the declared COVID-19 public health emergency beyond October 9, 2020, this leave expansion will likely be extended again.

More Detail: As we previously reported, the D.C. COVID-19 Support Emergency Amendment Act and the Coronavirus Support Clarification Emergency Amendment Act of 2020 (collectively, the “CSEA”) allow employees in the District to temporarily take unpaid, COVID-19 leave under an amendment to the D.C. Family and Medical Leave Act (“DCFMLA”).  The expansion of the law allows employees in the District who have worked for 30 days for an employer of any size to take up to 16-weeks of COVID-19 leave “if the employee is unable to work due to:

  • A recommendation from a healthcare provider to quarantine or isolate, including because the employee or an employee’s household member is high risk for serious illness from COVID-19;
  • A need to care for a family member or a member or an individual with whom the employee shares a household who is under a government or health care provider’s order to quarantine or isolate; or
  • A need to care for a child whose school or place of care is closed or whose childcare provider is unavailable to the employee.”

The law permits employers to obtain “reasonable certification of the need for COVID-19 leave,” as specifically set forth in the law:

  • If the leave is necessitated by the recommendation of a health care provider to the employee, a written, dated statement from a health care provider stating that the employee has such need and the probable duration of the need for leave.
  • If the leave is necessitated by the recommendation of a health care provider to an employee’s family member or individual with whom the employee shares a household, a written, dated statement from a health care provider stating that the individual has such need and the probable duration of the condition.
  • If the leave is needed because a school, place of care, or childcare provider is unavailable, a statement by the head of the agency, company, or childcare provider stating such closure or unavailability, which may include a printed statement obtained from the institution’s website.

Like other bases for DCFMLA leave, employees may elect, but are not required to use, other non-statutory paid leave provided by their employer (e.g., vacation time) while on COVID-19 leave.  In addition, the expansion provides that employees using the new leave “shall not be required, but may elect, to use leave provided under this section before other leave to which the employee is entitled under federal or District law or an employer’s policies, unless otherwise barred by District or federal law.”

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Proskauer’s cross-disciplinary, cross-jurisdictional Coronavirus Response Team is focused on supporting and addressing client concerns. Visit our Coronavirus Resource Center for guidance on risk management measures, practical steps businesses can take and resources to help manage ongoing operations.

Photo of Guy Brenner Guy Brenner

Guy Brenner is a partner in the Labor & Employment Law Department and leads the Firm’s Washington, D.C. Labor & Employment practice. He is head of the Government Contractor Compliance Group and is co-head of the Non-Compete & Trade Secrets Group. He has…

Guy Brenner is a partner in the Labor & Employment Law Department and leads the Firm’s Washington, D.C. Labor & Employment practice. He is head of the Government Contractor Compliance Group and is co-head of the Non-Compete & Trade Secrets Group. He has extensive experience representing employers in both single-plaintiff and class action matters, as well as in arbitration proceedings. He also regularly assists federal government contractors with the many special employment-related compliance challenges they face.

Guy represents employers in all aspects of employment and labor litigation and counseling, with an emphasis on non-compete and trade secrets issues, medical and disability leave matters, employee/independent contractor classification issues, and the investigation and litigation of whistleblower claims. He assists employers in negotiating and drafting executive agreements and employee mobility agreements, including non-competition, non-solicit and non-disclosure agreements, and also conducts and supervises internal investigations. He also regularly advises clients on pay equity matters, including privileged pay equity analyses.

Guy advises federal government contractors and subcontractors all aspects of Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) regulations and requirements, including preparing affirmative action plans, responding to desk audits, and managing on-site audits.

Photo of Caroline Guensberg Caroline Guensberg

Caroline Guensberg earned her J.D. from George Washington University Law School, graduating with honors. While attending law school, Caroline was a notes editor of the Federal Circuit Bar Journal and had her note published in the journal. Caroline was also a member of…

Caroline Guensberg earned her J.D. from George Washington University Law School, graduating with honors. While attending law school, Caroline was a notes editor of the Federal Circuit Bar Journal and had her note published in the journal. Caroline was also a member of the Alternative Dispute Resolution Board and served as a writing fellow and a dean’s fellow. In addition, Caroline worked as a legal intern for the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Federal Mine Safety Commission.

Prior to joining Proskauer, Caroline was a judicial clerk for the Connecticut Appellate Court. Caroline earned a B.A. in English Literature and Political Science from Wake Forest University.