It’s important to stay up to date on all of the employment laws in your state so that you can maintain compliance in your business. We did some of the hard work for you and put some of the most important District of Columbia statutes in one place so you can either learn them for the first time or give yourself a refresher. 

However, remember that our summary is not qualified legal advice, laws are always subject to change, and they can vary from municipality to municipality. 

It’s up to you to make sure you’re compliant with all laws and statutes in your area. Consult with a qualified lawyer and/or your local government agencies if you have questions or concerns. 

Here are a few employment laws every District of Columbia small business owner should know.

Resources

First, here are a few helpful links and resources for you to bookmark and refer back to:

Leave

  • Sick Days: Employers are required to provide paid sick leave to employees. The requirements based on business size are as follows: 
    • Employers with 24 or fewer employees: Not less than one hour of paid sick leave for ever 87 hours worked
      • The annual sick leave accrual can be capped at three days.
    • Employers with 25-99 employees: Not less than one hour of paid sick leave for every 43 hours worked 
      • The annual sick leave accrual can be capped at five days.
    • Employers with 100+ employees: Not less than one hour of paid sick leave for every 37 hours worked 
      • The annual sick leave accrual can be capped at seven days. 
  • Medical Leave: DC employers with 50 or more employees must comply with the federal Family and Medical Leave Act, which gives eligible employees the right to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for a serious health condition, a new child, or to prepare for a family member’s call to active military duty. 
  • Vacation Days: Employers are not required to provide vacation leave, but if they choose to do so, they must comply with their established policies. 
  • Jury Duty: Employers are required to provide leave to respond to a jury summons and serve on a jury, but it does not have to be paid. 
    • An employee may not be terminated, disciplined or threatened due to time taken off for jury duty. 
  • Holiday Leave: Employers must allow employees to take an unpaid vacation day on April 16, District of Columbia Emancipation Day, unless it would disrupt the employer’s operations. 
    • If any employee wishes to take April 16 off, they must provide notification of their desire to do so at least 10 days beforehand. 
    • No other laws require private employers to provide paid or unpaid holiday leave. 
  • Voting Leave: No statute
  • Bereavement Leave: No statute

Final Paycheck

  • If an employee is discharged (fired, terminated, laid off), the employer must pay all due wages no later than the first work day after the discharge. 
  • If the discharged employee is in charge of any of the employer’s monies, the employer has four days from the date of the discharge to verify the monies the employee was in charge of is accurate. 
  • If an employee quits or resigns, an employer must pay all due wages by the next regular payday or within seven days from the resignation date, whichever comes first. 
  • If an employee is suspended due to a labor dispute, the employer must pay all due wages no later than the next payday. 

Minimum Wage

  • The current minimum wage in Washington D.C. is $14. 
  • The minimum wage will increase to $15 on July 1, 2020. 
  • Starting July 1, 2021, the minimum wage will be increased annually in proportion to the annual average increase in the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers in the Washington Metropolitan Statistical Area. 

Tipped Wages

  • The current minimum wage for tipped employees is $4.45.
  • The tip minimum wage will increase on July 20, 2020, to $5.00.
  • The tip minimum wage, like the regular minimum wage, will be increased annually in proportion to the annual average increase in the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers in the Washington Metropolitan Statistical Area starting July 1, 2021. 
  • Employers may pay tipped employees the tip minimum wage if the employees actually receive tips in an amount that is at least equal to the difference between the tipped wage paid and the standard minimum wage. 
  • Employees are allowed to participate in tip pooling or sharing arrangements, but there are no laws specifying whether or not an employer may require tip pooling or sharing. 

Child Labor

  • Minors 14 and 15 years of age are not allowed to work more than six consecutive days a week, no more than 48 hours a week, and no more than 8 hours a day between the hours of 7 a.m. and 7 p.m, except when school is not in session– then they may work until 9 p.m. 
    • They may not work at jobs involving machinery. 
  • Minors 16 and 17 years of age may work no more than six consecutive days a week, no more than 48 hours a week, and no more than 8 hours a day between the hours of 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. 
    • They may not work any jobs involving the operation of any freight or non-automatic elevator or in a quarry, tunnel or excavation. 

Meal Breaks, Rest Periods, Overtime

  • Employers are required to pay non-exempt employees an overtime rate of 1 ½ times the regular rate of pay for all hours worked in excess of 40 hours in one workweek. 
  • DC has no statute for meals and breaks, so federal rules apply. The federal rule doesn’t require breaks, but when employers do offer short breaks (usually at a 20-minute maximum), they must be paid. 

Employment Discrimination

The DC Human Rights Act makes employment discrimination illegal based on the following traits:

  • Race
  • Color 
  • Religion
  • National origin
  • Gender or gender identity
  • Age 
  • Marital status
  • Personal appearance 
  • Sexual orientation
  • Family responsibilities
  • Political affiliation
  • Disability

Click here to read our blog on what is acceptable and unacceptable to ask during an interview. 

Termination

DC is an employment-at-will district, which means that without a written employee contract, employees can be terminated for any reason at any time, provided that the reason is not discriminatory. 

Shift Scheduling

DC minimum wage laws require employers to pay employees for one additional hour at the applicable minimum wage rate for each day employees work a split shift, or a daily schedule where the hours worked are not worked consecutively (not including meal periods of one hour or less). 

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