D.C. Expands Both DC-FMLA and Sick and Safe Leave Law for COVID-19


The District of Columbia temporarily expanded both its Family and Medical Leave Act (DC-FMLA) and its Sick and Safe Leave Act (DC-SSLA) to include COVID-19-related reasons.

DC-FMLA Expansion. Under this expansion, which is in effect until June 15, 2020, during the time that the Mayor has declared a public health emergency, as she has done for COVID-19, an employee is entitled to “Declaration of Emergency” (DOE) leave if they are unable to work because of the public health emergency.

  • This leave will apply to all employers, regardless of size (unlike regular DC-FMLA).
  • All employees will be eligible for this leave, and the normal DC-FMLA eligibility requirements of one-year and 1000 hours of service do not apply.
  • A recommendation from the Mayor, Department of Health, any other District or federal agency, or a medical professional that the employee self-quarantine or self-isolate will serve as certification of the need for such leave. In the case of a government mandated quarantine or isolation, the declaration of public health emergency will serve as such certification.
  • Employers must display a mandatory poster.

DC-SSLA Expansion. The D.C. Council also added two weeks (up to 80 hours) of emergency paid leave (EPL) to the DC-SSLA requirements in order to address COVID-19-related reasons, effective until July 9, 2020.

  • EPL will apply to non-healthcare employers with between 50-499 employees.
  • Employees are eligible if they have worked for the employer for at least 15 days.
  • EPL may be used if the employee is unable to work for the reasons set forth in the Families First Coronavirus Response Act: the employee is quarantined pursuant to Federal, State or local government order or the advice of a health care provider; the employee is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and is seeking a diagnosis; the employee is caring for an individual subject to quarantine; the employee is caring for a child whose school or child care provider is closed or unavailable because of COVID-19; or other reason specified by the Secretary of Health and Human Services.
  • Employees can be required to exhaust any available paid leave before using EPL.
  • If an employee exhausts EPL and needs additional leave, the employer must inform them of any paid or unpaid leave to which they are entitled under law or employer policy.
  • Employees must provide 48 hours’ notice of the need for EPL, except in emergency circumstances when they must provide reasonable notice.
  • Employees cannot be required to find a replacement to perform their work.

Certification of the need for EPL is permitted only if the employee uses 3 or more consecutive days of leave, and is due one week after the employee’s return to work. In addition, if the employer does not contribute towards the employee’s health insurance premiums, it cannot require certification.