New District of Columbia Requirements for Paid Leave, and Barring Credit Checks

Two new employment laws went into effect in the District of Columbia in April — The District of Columbia Universal Paid Leave Amendment Act, and the District of Columbia Fair Credit in Employment Amendment Act of 2016. Both laws will have a significant impact on businesses in D.C., and also on Maryland companies that have D.C. employees.

D.C. employers must give employees eight weeks of family leave

The Paid Leave Act requires employers to provide their employees with eight weeks of family leave, and it applies not only to employers based in D.C., but also to any business outside of the District that pays D.C. unemployment insurance. This brings within the scope of the law an employee that spends more than 50% of his or her work hours within the District of Columbia, and has worked for at least a 12-month period prior to the leave request.  The law applies to an employee that lives outside the District, if he or she works within the District.

A covered employee is entitled to:

  • Up to eight weeks or parental leave
  • Up to six weeks of family leave to care for a relative, and
  • Up to two weeks leave for a serious health condition

Leave is capped at a maximum of eight weeks in any 52-week period.

D.C. employers can no longer use credit ratings in hiring decisions

The new Fair Credit in Employment Amendment Act prohibits an employer from using or investigating credit information during the hiring process. A D.C. employer cannot request, require, or suggest that any current or prospective employee submit any type of credit information through job applications, credit history checks, or interviews. The law also covers interns.  There is an exclusion from the law’s prohibitions for applicants for positions requiring security clearance.  The law is enforced by the complaint process through the D.C. Commission on Human Rights, and penalties range from $1,000 to $5,000 per violation.

Employers in the District of Columbia should review their employment policies and:

  • Remove questions pertaining to credit information
  • Include in their employee handbooks a statement that the company no longer requires information from applicants regarding credit
  • Remove all credit information, such as credit background checks, from pre-employment background checks.
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