Check Your Policies To Ensure They Are In Compliance with Current D.C. Employment Laws
This article appeared in Association TRENDS, June 2015, and is reprinted with permission of the publisher.
There have been several recent changes in D.C. significantly affecting wages, employer notice requirements, and records maintenance as well as changes providing more protection to pregnant employees.
Wage Theft Prevention Amendment Act:
The Wage Theft Prevention Amendment Act (“the Act”) became effective February 26, 2015. Under this new law, employers are required to provide written notice of wages to all employees, regardless of exemption status. The notice must be provided to all new hires upon hiring and to all current employees by May 27, 2015. For non-exempt employees, the notice must be re-issued whenever there is a change in wages. For exempt employees, the notice must be re-issued whenever there is a change in pay or in exemption status. The Notice must be provided in the employee's primary language. Notably, this Act has penalties for violations such as fines of $500 per employee.
The Act also requires employers to keep records reflecting the precise time worked by non-exempt employees – not just the hours worked. Employers are further required to maintain a record of all paid leave taken by employees for at least three years and requires non-exempt employees to be paid at least twice per month.
D.C. Protecting Pregnant Workers Fairness Act of 2014
The D.C. Protecting Pregnant Workers Fairness Act of 2014 (“the PPWFA”) became effective March 3, 2015. Under the PPWFA, employers are required to provide accommodations, when requested, to employees when they are needed due to pregnancy, childbirth, related medical conditions or breastfeeding. Examples of such accommodations include, but are not limited to, more frequent or longer breaks, time off to recover from child birth, temporary transfers to less strenuous positions, providing modified work schedules and providing private non-bathroom space for expressing breast milk. In addition, the Act prohibits discrimination and/or retaliation against such employees.
In addition, the Act requires employers to issue a notice of employee rights to all new hires and current employees in their primary language. The notice must also be posted in English and Spanish. Finally, any employee who notifies the employer of her pregnancy, or other condition covered by the Act, must receive notice within 10 days of notification.
The PPWFA includes stiff penalties for non-compliance that can include lost wages, reinstatement and attorney's fees as well as fines for willful violations. In addition, an employer who fails to provide and post the required notice may be assessed daily civil penalties.
D.C. Minimum Wage Act:
The D.C. Minimum Wage Act was amended and provides for an increase to the minimum wage by $1.00 each July. As a result, on July 1, 2015, the new minimum wage in D.C. will be increased to $10.50. Employers who violate this provision may be found guilty of a misdemeanor and assessed fines. Willful violations may result in fines up to $10,000.00 or imprisonment.