New D.C. Laws – Voting Leave and Transportation Benefits
The District of Columbia has recently passed two employment laws, requiring employers to provide leave to vote and benefits to encourage the use of shared or public transportation – although they are not likely to take effect until 2022.
Voting Leave – The Leave to Vote Amendment Act requires D.C. employers, upon request, to provide up to 2 hours of paid leave to vote if the employee would have been scheduled to work during the time the leave is requested. Employers may require employees to request the leave a “reasonable time in advance.” They may also specify the hours to be taken for the leave, including during any early voting period or at the beginning or end of the work shift. Employers will be required to post a mandatory notice to be issued by the government. Employers may not deduct from employees’ wages or accrued leave to cover this leave, may not deny or interfere with the use of this leave, and may not retaliate against employees for taking the leave.
Transportation Benefits – The Transportation Benefits Equity Amendments Act requires employers to encourage employees to reduce private vehicle commuting. If the employer offers a “parking benefit” (meaning free or subsidized parking) to an employee it must also offer one of the following “Clean-air Transportation Fringe Benefits” in lieu of, and at least equal to the amount of, the parking benefit: (1) employer-provided mass transportation; (2) a transit pass; or (3) a bicycle commuting reimbursement. If the Clean-air Transportation Fringe Benefit is less than the parking subsidy, the difference must be paid as additional compensation or health coverage. Alternatively, the employer may pay a Clean Air Compliance Fee of $100 per employee with a parking subsidy to the D.C. Department of Transportation, or may submit a proposed transportation demand management plan (in compliance with forthcoming regulations) that will reduce employee use of private commuter vehicles over time to 25% of all commuter trips. The law also imposes a biennial reporting requirement.
When the laws take effect – The laws will not take effect, however, until they are funded through inclusion of their fiscal effect in an approved city budget and fiscal plan, which likely will not take place until 2022 at the earliest.