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DC Emergency Legislation Recap -- Passed on 4/7/2020

April 7, 2020

The DC Council introduced additional Emergency Legislation intended to address shortfalls from the initial Emergency Legislation, however there are still issues that are not addressed in this second bill, and we will continue to work with the Council to make sure our industry’s needs are met. One of the main issues that was removed from the legislation due to fiscal impact addresses much needed support for undocumented workers through a parallel UI process and a grant program. This is an issue we will continue to advocate for, and the Council has committed to continuing discussions to support this community in clear need of relief.

Both Mayor Bowser and Chairman Mendelson addressed that the DC government will need to cut $600 million for this year, an additional $600 million in the upcoming budget with overall spending at 2017 levels. Outlined below are pertinent issues addressed in the legislation.

Paid Leave: The DC Paid Leave law was amended to be in line with the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). Businesses with between 50 and 499 employees must offer 2 weeks of paid leave for reasons outlined in the FFCRA.

Under FFCRA employers with less than 50 employees are eligible for a hardship exemption that must be demonstrated by meeting the criteria laid out by the Department of Labor showing that the viability of your business will be jeopardized if paid leave is provided.

- An employer shall provide paid leave to an employee who is absent from work for the days the employee was scheduled to work up to a total of 14 consecutive days.
- This paid leave shall be compensated at the employee’s regular rate of pay or, in the case of an employee who does not have a regular rate of pay, the employee’s rate of pay shall be determined by dividing the employee’s total gross earnings, including all tips, commission, piecework, or other earnings earned on an irregular basis for the most recent 2-week period that the employee worked by the number of hours the employee worked during that 2-week period...but in no event shall such rate of pay fall below the minimum wage.
- The employer shall provide the aforementioned paid leave to all employees who began working for the employer at least 15 days before the request for leave.
- An employer may require that paid leave provided pursuant to this section be used at the same time as other leave to which the employee may be entitled pursuant to any applicable federal or District law.
- The employer shall not be required to provide an employee with paid leave under this section for more than 14 consecutive work days. If an employee uses the 14 consecutive work days and subsequently informs the employer of the employee’s need to be absent from work beyond what is available pursuant to this section, the employer shall inform the employee of any paid or unpaid leave to which the employee may be entitled pursuant to federal law, other District law, or the employer’s own policies.
- An employer alleged to have violated this section shall be provided with an opportunity to cure such alleged violation by the Mayor, but such opportunity to cure shall last no more than 5 business days from the date the employer is notified in writing of the potential violation of the law. Such notice may be from the Mayor’s duly authorized representative via email or other electronic means or verbally to the employer or the employer’s authorized representative.
- This paid leave shall not accrue.
- An employee who seeks to use this paid leave shall not: (i) Except for emergency leave pursuant to (2) below, be required by the employer to provide more than 24 hours’ notice of the need to use such leave; (2) Be required by the employee’s employer to provide more than reasonable notice of the employee’s need to use such leave in the event of an emergency; (3) Be subject to threats or retaliation, including verbal or written warnings; or (4) Be required by the employer to search for or identify another employee to perform the work hours or work of the employee using paid leave.”
- An employer shall not require that an employee who uses this paid leave under to provide certification [typically a signed document from a health care professional] of the need to use paid leave that is otherwise permitted under this act unless the employee uses 3 or more consecutive working days of paid leave [note: this 3 or more consecutive working days requirement remains the same), and any such certification required by an employer shall not be required to provide it until 3 weeks after the employee’s return to work.  Also, an employer that does not contribute payments toward a health insurance plan on behalf of the employee shall not require certification from the employee who uses this paid leave.
- Applicability: [Note: pulled from federal law on paid leave for COVID-19] An employer (except if the employee is a health care provider or emergency responder) shall provide to each employee employed by the employer paid leave for the following situations: (1) The employee is subject to a Federal, State, or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19; (2) The employee has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to concerns related to COVID-19; (3) The employee is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and seeking a medical diagnosis; (4) The employee is caring for an individual who is subject to an order as described in (1) or has been advised as described in (2); (5) The employee is caring for a son or daughter of such employee if the school or place of care of the son or daughter has been closed, or the child care provider of such son or daughter is unavailable, due to COVID-19 precautions; (6) The employee is experiencing any other substantially similar condition specified by the Secretary of Health and Human Services in consultation with the Secretary of the Treasury and the Secretary of Labor; (7) the employee is unable to work (or telework) due to a need for leave to care for the son or daughter under 18 years of age of such employee if the school or place of care has been closed, or the child care provider of such son or daughter is unavailable, due to a public health emergency [Note: (7) has overlap with the provisions above].

Mortgage relief available for Commercial Landlords: Allows for 90-day mortgage deferrals that must be passed through to commercial tenants.

  • A landlord receiving a mortgage deferral on a property that has a commercial tenant shall reduce the rent charged to the commercial tenant proportional to the reduced mortgage.
  • Mortgages are to develop programs which: (1) Grant at least a 90-day deferment of mortgage payments for borrowers; (2) Permanently waives any late fee, processing fee, or any other fees accrued during the public health emergency; and (3) Does not report to a credit bureau any delinquency or other derogatory information that occurs as a result of the deferral.

ANC Protest Period for ABC Licenses: The 45 calendar day protest period for ANCs to protest an ABC license changed to 60 calendar days during any public health emergency declared by the Mayor.