Recap of “What Every Small Business Should Know About DC Paid Family Leave”
DSLBD and DOES recently held a workshop to share with businesses “What Every Small Business Should Know About DC Paid Family Leave.”
CHAMPS attended the workshop and below are some of the questions asked and responses given.
Also, DOES noted that the benefit proposed rules have been released. The public has until September 9 to comment. Do you have questions, concerns, or recommendations for the benefit regulations? Email firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know by September 1 so we can include those points in the comments CHAMPS is submitting!
How much leave is an employee allowed under PFL?
The benefit provides 8 weeks of leave to bond with a new child, 6 weeks to care for a family member, and 2 weeks for personal medical needs. However – an employee can take no more than 8 weeks total in a 52-week period.
How much money can an employee receive under PFL?
The most an employee can receive is 90% of their weekly wages or $1,000. DC will never provide 100% of wage replacement.
When will an employer find out that an employee is taking PFL?
Ideally, an employee will directly let the employer know when the employee is taking leave, whether that is in advance of maternity leave, or the employee calling to let the employer know they have been in an accident and can’t work. The benefit regulations currently call for employees to notify employers in writing at least 10 days before taking PFL.
If DOES determines that an employee is eligible for PFL, the employer will be notified by DOES of the kind of leave, the start date and expected end date of the leave, and whether the leave is intermittent. If the leave is intermittent, the scheduled days for which leave will be used will also be communicated to the employer.
What if I am self-employed?
Self-employed individuals can opt in to PFL, but that has to be done by September 28, 2019, in order to be eligible for the benefit starting on July 1, 2020. If you are self-employed and receive a salary and pay unemployment insurance on your salary, you are already in the system (and should have begun making PFL payments).
Employers are required to notify their employees that paid leave is available through DC. When am I supposed to do that?
Employers need to give employees notice that paid leave is available through DC at three points – annually, for example at a performance review; 2) when hiring the employee; and 3) when the employer receives notice that the employee needs leave. Let’s look at that third category, because it is a little unclear. An employee must directly request leave for a medical situation that would qualify for leave from the employer. Water cooler talk or rumors around the store that someone is pregnant or has a sick family member doesn’t count as obligating an employer to let an employee know about paid family leave.
DOES will provide posters to employers to put up in public areas like breakrooms. The earliest that these posters would be available is January 2020.
What happens if I overpay my paid leave, particularly this first quarter? How can see if I have overpaid? It is easy to see if I have overpaid my Unemployment Insurance, and PFL is supposed to work the same way.
Right now, employers will need to look at their payment history through the DOES site and click on each payment to see what it was applied to and whether it is a payment or a credit. DOES is working to put a box on the front page of the site so that when a business logs in, you can easily see if there is an overpayment/credit.
As an employer, I offer disability and/or sick leave to my employees. How does DC’s Paid Family Leave coordinate with that?
Employer-provided benefits cannot offset the DC paid family leave. They can run concurrently but cannot replace the benefit that DC will begin offering on July 1, 2020. Employers are encouraged to contact their disability insurance providers to see how the disability insurer can come in as a second insurer. It’s important to note that DC will never provide 100% of wage replacement. The most an employee can get is 90% of their weekly wages or $1000.
DOES sent the below two FAQs as the most commonly asked by employers since July:
Question 1: Can my business make a combined payment for taxes owed pursuant to Unemployment Insurance and Paid Family Leave?
An employer must make separate payments to cover their obligations under the District’s Unemployment Insurance and Paid Family Leave taxes. For an example, combined payments made under the Unemployment Insurance payment portal will only get credited to Unemployment Insurance taxes.
Question 2: Is it necessary to include a payment voucher in addition to my tax payment?
A Paid Family Leave voucher is required to process your Paid Family Leave payment. If you fail to include a voucher there will be a delay in processing your payment which could result in late payment penalties.
We recommend using the automated payment wizard in ESSP to generate this document.
Third Party Agents: Each check payment must match the amount owed on a single voucher. i.e., one check, one voucher.
Vouchers and payments must be mailed to: DC Government Paid Family Leave, PO Box 98269, Washington, DC 20090.