District of Columbia Accrued Sick and Safe Leave Act

Earlier this year, the District of Columbia City Council had passed and the mayor had signed into law B20-0480 to amend the Accrued Sick and Safe Leave Act. Although effective in February, because the amendment was tied to the District’s budget, the actual provisions will go into effect starting October 1, 2014.

A major change to the Accrued Sick and Safe Leave Act is the expansion of definitions for “employee” and “employer” covered by the Act. The Act now will include employers who employ individuals through an agent such as a temporary services or staffing agency, or who otherwise exercise control over the wages, hours or working conditions of covered employees in the District.

Under the new amendments to the Act, the definition of “employee” now includes restaurant and bar employees who regularly receive tips. In addition, the D.C. Council added new exceptions to the definition of “employee” in the amendments to expressly exclude the following:

  • Volunteers with educational, charitable, religious or nonprofit organizations;
  • Laypersons who work for religious organizations; and
  • Casual babysitters who work in the residence of their employer.

Also under the new amendments, employees begin to accrue paid leave from their first day of employment. However, covered employees can access such leave only after 90 days of employment.

Another significant change in the Act ensures that employees who transfer or are rehired by the same employer do not lose previously accrued leave. The amendments to the Act require employers to retain employment records showing hours worked by employees and paid leave taken for a period of three years.

Perhaps the most significant amendments to the Act are likely the enforcement provisions including, but not limited to, allowing for $500 in additional damages to the employee for each day that an employer denies the employee the ability to use paid leave. In the event of a willful violation of the Act, there will be a civil penalty of $1,000 for the first offense, $1,500 for the second offense and $2,000 for the third and any subsequent offense.


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