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District of Columbia Employers Mandated to Provide Paid COVID-19 Vaccine Leave

DC Mayor Muriel Bowser signed into law the COVID Vaccination Leave Emergency Amendment Act of 2021 (act) which requires all D.C. employers to begin providing paid leave to employees for spending time away from to obtain and recover from side effects of a COVID-19 vaccine (if needed). In addition, employees will also be able to take paid leave to take a child(ren) to obtain their COVID-19 vaccine and to care for the child(ren) following the vaccine (if needed).

The act took effect on November 19, 2021, but certain provisions of the law are retroactive to November 5, and is set to expire on February 3, 2022.

The act amends the DC Accrued Sick and Safe Leave Act of 2008 and requires employers to provide up to two hours of paid leave for employees to obtain each dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, including boosters. This leave is also available for employees to obtain a COVID-19 vaccine for their child. Furthermore, the leave dictates that employees can utilize up to eight hours of paid vaccine recovery leave, per dose and during the 24 hours period following each injection. These eight hours of paid vaccine recovery leave would also apply to an employee that has to take care of a child recovering from their vaccine dose.

For employees to be eligible for this leave, they must be employed by the employer for at least 15 days before the request for leave.

Updates to DCFMLA

The COVID Vaccination Leave Emergency Amendment Act of 2021 also updates and extends the existing unpaid leave benefits for COVID-19, provided through the D.C. Family Medical Leave Act (DCFMLA). Effective November 5, 2021, employers are required to provide up to 16 weeks of unpaid leave in a two-year period to:

  • Care for themselves if they:
    • Test positive for COVID-19, or
    • Need to quarantine at the recommendation of a health care provider or employer’s directive due to COVID-19.
  • Care for a family member or member of their household who:
    • Tests positive for COVID-19, or
    • Needs to quarantine at the recommendation of a healthcare provider, school policy, or childcare provider due to COVID-19.
  • Care for a child who needs supervision due to their school, place of care, or childcare provider being closed or unavailable due to COVID-19.

For employees to be eligible for said leave benefits, they must have worked for their current employer for at least 30 days prior.

Next Steps for Employers

It is recommended that employers review and if needed, update company procedures and policies to comply with the act. If concerns arise regarding your company’s compliance requirements, please be sure to speak with your legal counsel.

HR Works, headquartered in Upstate New York, is a human resource management outsourcing and consulting firm serving clients throughout the United States for over thirty years. HR Works provides scalable strategic human resource management and consulting services, including: affirmative action programs; benefits administration outsourcing; HRIS self-service technology; full-time, part-time and interim on-site HR managers; HR audits; legally reviewed employee handbooks and supervisor manuals; talent management and recruiting services; and training of managers and HR professionals.