Required Notice to Employees
The DC Office of Paid Family Leave (OPFL) recently sent an email announcing the Notice to Employees. Please check your spam filter if you signed up for the OPFL mailing list and did not receive the email.
By February 1, 2020, DC employers must conspicuously post the Notice to Employees at all DC worksites and distribute a copy to all DC employees. In addition, employers are required to give a copy to employees annually, upon hire, and within a reasonable time after they request leave which may be eligible for PFL benefits. Translated versions of the Notice are not online yet, but are forthcoming. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you need a translation before it becomes available on the resource page.
Are PFL Benefits Taxable Income?
The OPFL expects IRS guidance will indicate that PFL benefit payments are taxable income. Unless the IRS advises otherwise, the OPFL plans to issue Forms 1099-G to any PFL recipients, which is the form used to report unemployment compensation, state and local income tax refunds, and other government payments. Similar to unemployment compensation claims, PFL recipients will be given the option of having 10% withheld for federal income taxes and 5% withheld for DC income taxes. Employers have no responsibility for reporting or withholding or any other tax-related concern regarding the PFL benefit.
Employer Notice of Claims
Many employers want to know how they will find out when a DC PFL claim is filed and how much benefit is paid. The OPFL is planning a two- prong approach to contact employers:
- Employees will be required to indicate their current employer and to provide contact information for either a supervisor or HR department when they submit a claim for benefits.
- Employers are required to maintain current contact information in their Employer Self-Service Portal profiles, where quarterly income reports are submitted.
While the OPFL will alert employers of a claims submission, it will not provide information on the amount of benefit payments at this time.
One Week of No Benefits
This requirement will apply differently than the typical elimination period concept for insured disability benefits. Under DC PFL, the one week “no benefit” period applies during the first calendar week following the “leave event”, regardless of when the employee will begin taking leave, including if leave is intermittent. A “leave event” is:
- for Medical leave, the diagnosis or occurrence of the individual’s serious health condition;
- for Family leave, the diagnosis or occurrence of a family member’s serious health condition; and
- for Parental leave, the arrival of the new child.
This method means that in some cases, the one-week period of no benefits may even be satisfied before the employee takes leave and the employee would be eligible for paid benefits on their first day of qualifying leave. Here are a few examples from our discussions with OPFL representatives:
- Example 1: An employee is diagnosed with a serious health condition which requires surgery and a period of absence for recovery. The surgery is scheduled for a date that is more than one week after the diagnosis, but the employee continues working until the day of surgery. The one-week period has been satisfied before the first day of leave.
- Example 2: An employee’s child arrives on a Monday and the employee takes leave that Monday and Tuesday, but returns to work Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. The one-week period of no benefits starts counting on that Monday when the child arrives. By the time the employee takes additional parental leave the next week, the one-week period has been satisfied.
- Example 3: An employee’s mother is diagnosed with a serious health condition and will need several weeks of care. The employee’s sibling will provide care during the first week. The one-week period of no benefits starts counting when the mother is diagnosed even though the employee continues working. By the time the employee takes leave to provide care the second week, the one-week period has been satisfied.
Final Regulations & Employer Guide
The final regulations published in March 2019 only address procedures related to employer contributions and reporting. In August 2019, the OPFL published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on the procedures for administering the paid leave benefits. Once this second set of regulations is finalized and published, a robust employer handbook with all the pertinent details and examples will also be released. This includes the information above that may not otherwise be available online at this time, such as the official OPFL explanation of the one week no benefit period.
Did You Miss the DC PFL Town Hall?
A recording of the most recent Town Hall and official FAQs will be available shortly. Please sign up for the DC PFL mailing list on dcpaidfamilyleave.dc.gov/engage to be notified when the recording is online and receive timely information of other upcoming events and online resources.
*New* Online Six-Part Employer Webinar Series
The OPFL recently posted a recorded webinar series explaining different aspects of the benefit. Each of the recordings are short and can be viewed separately on-demand. Although the series is titled as an employer webinar, all six videos contain information that may be of interest to both employers and employees, and Parts 3-6 are recorded as if speaking to employees.
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