District of Columbia Leave Laws

May 2nd 2024

Leave laws in the District of Columbia support a healthy work-life balance and promote civic engagement. From granting time off to vote to allowing workers to attend to their health, leave regulations are crucial for employee wellbeing and productivity. This article offers a comprehensive guide to the legal responsibilities employers face regarding employee leave in the District of Columbia. Leave falls into two categories: mandatory and non-mandatory, each defined by specific guidelines and legal requirements.

This Article Covers

District of Columbia Required Leave
District of Columbia Non-Required Leave

District of Columbia Required Leave

In the District of Columbia, employees are entitled to the following types of leave:

1. Sick Leave

  • Eligibility: All employers in the District of Columbia must provide sick leave.
  • Duration: The accrual rate depends on the size of the company. Employees at businesses with up to 24 employees accrue 1 hour of sick leave for every 87 hours worked. For businesses with 25 to 99 employees, it’s 1 hour for every 43 hours worked. For businesses with 100 or more employees, the accrual rate is 1 hour for every 37 hours worked. 
  • Circumstance for Utilizing Leave: Sick leave can be used for personal illness, medical care, or other health-related needs.
  • Pay: Sick leave is paid at the normal rate of pay.

2. Jury Duty Leave

  • Eligibility: Employers in the District of Columbia must permit abence from work for jury duty. 
  • Duration: The duration required for jury service.
  • Circumstance for Utilizing Leave: When an employee is summoned to serve on a jury. 
  • Pay: Employers cannot penalize or discipline employees for participating in jury duty.

3. Military Leave

  • Eligibility: Employees in DC who serve in the Army, Navy, Coast Guard, Air Force, Reserves, and other military branches are entitled to military leave. 
  • Duration: As required for military duty, including active duty, inactive duty, and training.
  • Circumstance for Utilizing Leave: Military duty, including inactive duty and training. 
  • Pay: The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) protects employees from termination or discrimination due to military obligations.

4. School Leave

  • Eligibility: Employees who are parents, guardians, grandparents, aunts, and uncles residing in the District of Columbia must be granted leave, as long as they submit a request at least 10 days in advance. 
  • Duration: 24 hours per year. 
  • Circumstance for Utilizing Leave: Attendance at school-related activities for dependents.
  • Pay: Compensation for school leave is at the employer’s discretion.

5. Voting Time Leave

  • Eligibility: If an employee’s work schedule does not allow for two hours of voting time, the employer must grant them voting time leave
  • Duration: Up to 2 hours.
  • Circumstance for Utilizing Leave: Voting in any local, state, or federal election.
  • Pay: Paid leave must be provided, however, employers may request proof of voting, which should be stipulated in advance.

6. Prenatal Leave

  • Eligibility: Employees in the District of Columbia have the right to a leave of absence during the prenatal period. 
  • Duration: Up to 9 weeks to bond with a child (including adopted or foster children), 6 weeks to care for a sick family member with a serious health condition, and 2 weeks of personal medical care.
  • Circumstance for Utilizing Leave: Required bed rest, pregnancy-related treatments, medical care after a miscarriage, prenatal appointments, exams, treatments, and prenatal physical therapy.
  • Pay: Prenatal leave is paid as per the Universal Paid Leave Emergency Amendment Act.

7. Holiday Leave

  • Eligibility: All employees in the District of Columbia may request leave to observe Emancipation Day, as long as the request is made at least 10 days ahead of time. However, there are exceptions if the leave would disrupt company operations.
  • Duration: The leave is granted for Emancipation Day on April 16th or the nearest workday.
  • Circumstance for Utilizing Leave: The occurrence of Emancipation Day. 
  • Pay: Leave for Emancipation Day is unpaid.

The following are the official federal holidays observed in the US:

State Official Holidays Date
New Year’s Day 1 January
Martin Luther King Jr. Civil Rights Day Third Monday in January
Washington’s Birthday Third Monday in February
Memorial Day Last Monday in May
Independence Day 4 July
Labor Day First Monday in September
Columbus Day Second Monday in October
Election Day Every other year
Veterans Day 11 November
Thanksgiving Day Fourth Thursday in November
Christmas Day 25 December

Learn more in detail about District of Columbia Labor Laws and District of Columbia Salaried Employee Laws.

District of Columbia Non-Required Leave

The following types of leave are optional for employers in the District of Columbia:

1. Bereavement Leave

In the District of Columbia, bereavement leave is not mandated by law, meaning employers are not legally required to provide it. Employers may choose to establish bereavement leave policies to support employees during times of loss, if they see fit.

2. Vacation Leave

There is no legal requirement for employers in the District of Columbia to offer vacation leave to their employees. Any vacation time given to employees, whether paid or unpaid, should be clearly outlined in the employment contract or employee handbook, including how it accrues, its usage, and any conditions on payout upon termination. Employers are free to design their vacation policies as they see fit, as long as they consistently apply and communicate these policies to all employees.

Important Cautionary Note

This content is provided for informational purposes only. While we make every effort to ensure the accuracy of the information presented, we cannot guarantee that it is free of errors or omissions. Users are advised to independently verify any critical information and should not solely rely on the content provided.