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Wage and Hour Division
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Wage and Hour Division (WHD)

Federal vs. the District of Columbia Family and Medical Leave Laws




Employer Covered

Private Employers of 50 or more Employees in at least 20 weeks of the current or preceding year

Public agencies, including state, local, and Federal Employers

Local education agencies covered under special provisions

Any individual, firm, association, corporation, the D.C. government, receiver or trustee of any individual, firm, association, or corporation, or the legal representative of a deceased Employer who uses the services of an individual for pay in the District

Local education agencies subject to special provisions

Employees Eligible

Worked for Employer for at least 12 months - which need not be consecutive; worked at least 1,250 hours for Employer during 12 months preceding leave; and employed at Employer worksite with 50 or more Employees or within 75 miles of Employer worksites with a total of 50 or more Employees

Have worked for one year with same Employer without a break in service except for regular holidays, sick or personal leave granted by Employer with at least 1000 hours service during the past 12-month period prior to leave request

No worksite proviso

Leave Amount

Up to a total of 12 weeks during a 12-month period; however, leave for birth, adoption, foster care, or to care for a parent with a serious health condition must be shared by spouses working for same Employer

16 weeks during 24-month period for family leave (care for family member); 16 weeks for medical leave (employee's own serious health condition)

Leave rights for birth or placement expire 12 months after birth of child or placement

Leave must be shared by family members working for the same Employer

Type of Leave

Unpaid leave for birth, placement of child for adoption or foster care, to provide care for Employee's own parent (including individuals who exercise parental responsibility under state law), child, or spouse with serious health condition, or Employee's own serious health condition

Similar to Federal provisions, but applied in terms of "family membership," defined to include a person to whom the employee is related by blood, legal custody, or marriage, sharing mutual residence and committed relationship with the Employee. Also includes a child who lives with an employee and for whom the employee permanently assumes and discharges parental responsibility.

Serious Health Condition

Illness, injury, impairment, or physical or mental condition involving incapacity or treatment connected with inpatient care in hospital, hospice, or residential medical-care facility; or, continuing treatment by a health care provider involving a period of incapacity: (1) requiring absence of more than 3 consecutive calendar days from work, school, or other activities; (2) due to a chronic or long-term condition for which treatment may be ineffective; (3) absences to receive multiple treatments (including recovery periods) for a condition that if left untreated likely would result in incapacity of more than 3 days; or (4) due to any incapacity related to pregnancy or for prenatal care

Similar to Federal provisions

Health Care Provider

Doctors of medicine or osteopathy authorized to practice medicine or surgery; podiatrists, dentists, clinical psychologists, clinical social workers, optometrists, chiropractors (limited to manual manipulation of spine to correct subluxation shown to exist by x-ray), nurse practitioners, and nurse-midwives, if authorized to practice under State law and consistent with the scope of their authorization; Christian Science practitioners listed with the First Church of Christ, Scientist in Boston, MA; any provider so recognized by the Employer or its group health plan's benefits manager; and any health provider listed above who practices and is authorized to practice in a country other than the United States

Any person licensed under Federal, State, or District of Columbia law to provide health care services

Intermittent Leave

Permitted for serious health condition when medically necessary. Not permitted for care of newborn or new placement by adoption or foster care unless Employer agrees

Intermittent leave may be taken when a family member or the Employee himself or herself has a serious health condition

Substitution of Paid Leave

Employees may elect or Employers may require accrued paid leave to be substituted in some cases. No limits on substituting paid vacation or personal leave. An Employee may not substitute paid sick, medical, of family leave for any situation not covered by any Employers' leave plan

Employee may elect accrued paid family, vacation, personal, or compensatory leave to be substituted, plus the Employee may utilize program run by Employer to use paid leave of another Employee under certain conditions that have been met

Reinstatement Rights

Must be restored to same position or one equivalent to it in all benefits and other terms and conditions of employment

Similar to Federal provision, with the addition that if the Employee accepted alternative employment with Employer throughout the duration of the serious health condition, the Employee shall be returned to his or her original employment upon their return from leave

Key Employee Exception

Limited exception for salaried Employees if among highest paid 10%, within 75 miles of worksites, restoration would lead to grievous economic harm to Employer, and other conditions met

Similar to Federal provision but for Employers with less than 50 Employees, Employment restoration may be denied to a salaried Employee if the Employee is among the 5 highest paid Employees of an Employer

Maintenance of Health Benefits During Leave

Health insurance must be continued under same conditions as prior to leave

Similar to Federal provision

Leave Requests

To be made by Employee at least 30 days prior to date leave is to begin where need is known in advance or, where not foreseeable, as soon as practicable.

If due to a planned medical treatment or for intermittent leave, the Employee, subject to health care provider's approval, shall make a reasonable effort to schedule it in a way that does not unduly disrupt Employer's operation

Similar to Federal provision in that the Employee shall provide reasonable prior notice

Similar to Federal provision

Medical Certification May Be Required by Employer for:

Request for leave because of serious health condition

To demonstrate Employee's fitness to return to work from medical leave where Employer has a uniformly applied practice or policy to require such certification

Similar to Federal provision

No provision relating to certification of fitness to return to work

Executive, Administrative, and Professional Employees

Such individuals are entitled to FMLA benefits. However, their use of FMLA leave does not change their status under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), i.e., an Employer, does not lose its exemption from the FLSA's minimum wage and overtime requirements.

No provision regarding effect on exempt status under the District of Columbia minimum wage and overtime law