Final Paid Sick and Safe Day Regulations Still Elusive in D.C.

Jan 26, 2010

By Lexer Quamie

Nearly two years after the Washington D.C. City Council passed legislation that would provide workers with paid sick and safe days, many employers and employees are unaware the law exists.

Passed in March 2008, the law became effective November 13, 2008, making D.C. the second city to pass a sick leave measure. The city, however, has not finalized regulations, and many workers and businesses are unclear about their responsibilities with respect to the law.  As reported in the The Washington Post, on January 25, 2010, D.C. Council member Phil Mendelson (D-At Large) recently wrote a letter to Department of Employment Services Director Joseph P. Walsh regarding the delay in finalizing the regulations.  Walsh has assured Mendelson of a response as soon as possible.  Even though the law took effect in November 2008, the additional step of publishing the final rules would require the mayor to begin a publicity campaign to notify employers and employees.  In an issued statement, Mayor Fenty stated his administration would submit additional regulations "in the coming days to further educate the public" about the Act's requirements.

The D.C. Accrued Sick and Safe Leave Act of 2008 provides employers with 100 employees or greater to provide up to seven days of paid sick days; businesses with 25-99 employees would provide up to 5 days; and businesses with 1-24 employee would provide up to 3 days of paid time off.   An employee may use the paid time off for illness for himself or a family member.  Also, an employee may use the days for domestic violence treatment for the employee or a family member.  Individuals not covered include independent contractors, student, or health care workers in positions for which there are critical labor shortages.  

Until the regulations are published, there is no clear recourse for workers who are unable to take time off to care for themselves or a family member who is ill.


D.C. workers will not fully be protected until the regulations are finalized.  CLASP will work with the Employment Justice Center and other advocates to shed light on this issue and help secure the final regulations. 

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