DC Passes Emergency COVID-19 Response Law

Author: Robert S. Teachout, XpertHR Legal Editor

April 14, 2020

The District of Columbia passed an emergency law that expands the District's unemployment insurance program to take advantage of federal legislation. It also creates additional paid sick leave entitlements for employees of mid-sized District employers.

The COVID-19 Response Supplemental Emergency Amendment Act of 2020 (Emergency Act) temporarily expands the District's paid sick leave law. It requires employers with between 50 and 499 employees (except for health care providers) to provide paid "declaration of emergency" leave for any reason authorized under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), including when an employee is unable to work because the employee:

  • Has been recommended to self-isolate or required to quarantine following exposure to, or while experiencing symptoms of, COVID-19;
  • Must care for an at-risk family member for exposure or symptoms related to COVID-19; or
  • Must care for a child whose school or place of care has closed.

The leave must be in an amount to allow a covered employee to be absent for up to two weeks.

In addition, the Emergency Act expands the District's unemployment insurance program to cover certain self-employed workers, gig workers, those seeking part-time work and workers "who otherwise would not qualify." Furthermore, employees will be eligible for unemployment insurance benefits regardless of if:

  • The employer has provided a date certain for the employee's return to work; or
  • The employee has a reasonable expectation of continued employment with the employer.

The Emergency Act became effective when the mayor's signed the bill on April 10 and remains in force for 90 days, until July 9, 2020.