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Paid family leave for employees in DC

On July 1, 2020, the District of Columbia launched its new Paid Family Leave program (PFL).  The Paid Family Leave program provides paid leave to most private-sector employees in DC in certain situations.  Here’s a basic overview for DC Paid Family Leave:

What is DC Paid Family Leave?

DC Paid Family Leave is a monetary benefit for qualifying employees who work in Washington, DC, and need to take leave for certain family-related reasons.  All private-sector (non-government) employers in DC must pay taxes toward Paid Family Leave.  The Office of Paid Family Leave (OPFL), a division of the District of Columbia Department of Employment Services, administers the Paid Family Leave program.

Do I qualify for DC Paid Family Leave benefits?

You may qualify for benefits if:

  • You began working for an employer in DC before you experienced the qualifying event
  • You spend most of your work time in DC

How much Paid Family Leave can I take?

There are three types of Paid Family Leave, and each has its own eligibility requirements:

Parental Leave

You may take up to 8 weeks of parental leave per year to care for:

  • A biological child within a year from the child’s birth
  • An adopted child within a year from the child’s adoption
  • A foster child within a year of the child’s placement
  • A child that you otherwise assumed parental responsibility for during the past year

Family Leave

You may take up to 6 weeks of family leave per year to care for a family member that has a serious health condition.

Medical Leave

You may take up to 2 weeks of medical leave per year if you have a serious health condition.

However, you may only take a total of 8 weeks of Paid Family Leave per year, regardless of the type.  For example, if you take 8 weeks of parental leave, you can’t take any paid family or medical leave during the same year.

Will I get my full pay?

Your benefit amount depends on your wages and income.  However, the maximum benefit is $1,000 per week.  You can use the DOES Paid Family Leave Weekly Benefit Calculator to get an estimate of your benefits.

How do I request leave from my employer?

Unless it is an emergency, submit a written leave request to your employer at least 10 days in advance.  Include the following information in your request:

  • Which type of leave you need (parental, family, or medical)
  • How long you need to take leave
  • The expected start and end dates of leave
  • Your leave schedule (continuous or intermittent, full-time or part-time, )

How do I file a claim for DC Paid Family Leave benefits?

You can file a claim:

  • Through the DC Paid Family Leave online portal
  • By emailing a completed claim form and required documentation to
  • By mailing or hand-delivering a completed claim form and required documentation to the PFL Benefits Division at 4058 Minnesota Ave., NE, Washington, DC 20019

What information do I need to include in my claim?

Before you apply, visit the DC Paid Family Leave website to make sure you have all the required information and documents.  For example, a birth certificate or documentation from a medical provider may be required for claims to take parental leave for a newborn; a Medical Certification is required for family and medical leave claims.  Additional documentation may be required.

When can I file my claim for DC Paid Family Leave?

You can’t file your claim until after the qualifying event occurs.  For parental leave claims, this means the date your child is born or placed with you.  For family and medical leave claims, the date of occurrence is the date that the health care providers completed the Medical Certification.

However, you should file a claim as soon as possible after the qualifying event occurs.  Generally, you can only receive benefits for leave you take after you apply.  Say you take 12 weeks of maternity leave, but you don’t apply for PFL until six weeks into your leave.  You will likely only receive benefits for the remaining six weeks of leave.

How can an attorney help me get DC Paid Family Leave?

You don’t need an attorney to file a claim for DC Paid Family Leave.  However, an experienced employment attorney can provide advice and recommendations about whether you are eligible for leave and how to request it.  A lawyer can also determine whether your employer violated your right to take family or medical leave and help you take legal action.

If you believe your DC employer unlawfully denied your request to take family or medical leave, Alan Lescht and Associates, P.C., can help.  We represent private-sector employees and state and local government workers in Washington, DC, Maryland, and northern Virginia.

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