Paid Family Leave

I-2019-19


Effective Date: Expiration Date: Chapters:
Nov. 3, 2019 When Superseded 12  

Overview

This issuance replaces the DPM bulletin on Paid Family Leave issued in 2015, and includes guidance relating to the use of intermittent PFL, qualifying event dates, and interaction with agency timekeepers.  Additional minor edits were made to the issuance.

I-2019-19


Paid Family Leave Benefit

The District government provides its employees with up to eight workweeks of paid family leave to welcome a new child or youth to their family, or to provide needed care to a family member. This benefit to employees is in addition to their accrued annual and sick leave.

To qualify for the paid family leave benefit, an employee must:

  1. Be an employee of the District of Columbia government who is neither a temporary employee appointed for less than 90 days, nor on an intermittent schedule;
  2. Have experienced (or will experience) any of the following qualifying events:
    1. The birth of a child;
    2. The legal placement of a child (e.g., adoption, guardianship, foster care);
    3. The non-legal placement of a child with the permanent assumption and discharge of parental responsibilities for that child; or
    4. The need to provide care to a family member with a serious health condition.
  3. Submit a “Family and Medical Leave Application Form” within 12 months of a qualifying event; and
  4. Not have received paid family leave for another qualifying event within the last 12 months. An employee may only receive paid family leave for one qualifying event within a 12-month period. If a Family and Medical Leave Coordinator previously approved an employee for paid family leave, the employee must wait at least 12 months following the last payment before they are eligible for paid family leave for another qualifying event.

Applying for Leave

Paid Family Leave Application

To receive the paid family leave benefit, an employee must fill out and submit a Family and Medical Leave Application Form (FML-01). On the form, the employee must provide their personal information, the reason for the leave request, the total number of hours being requested, and the type(s) of leave that will be used, if any.

In the “Type of Paid Leave” section of the application, the employee must check “Paid Family” and specify the number of paid family leave hours requested. An employee must use paid family leave in conjunction with any available leave under the District of Columbia Family and Medical Leave Act (DCFMLA), as well as the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Employees who qualify for these programs and wish to request leave for more than the eight workweeks must identify other types of leave they wish to use for any additional time beyond eight workweeks (e.g., annual leave, sick leave, compensatory leave, or leave without pay).

Proof of Eligibility

In addition to the Family and Medical Leave Application Form, an employee must also submit supporting documents that establish the qualifying event for eligibility. Supporting documents include the following:

  1. For the birth of a child:
    1. A certificate of live birth; or,
    2. A similar government-issued (or legal) document listing the employee as a legal parent.
  2. For the legal placement of a child (e.g., adoption), a certified copy of a court order granting the employee legal custody of the child.
  3. For the non-legal placement of a child:
    1. Two official records establishing the employee as a named caregiver to the child (e.g., school enrollment, insurance records, or medical records); and
    2. Reliable documentation establishing the date when the placement occurred (e.g., insurance records, certificates of death).
  4. For the care of a family member with a serious health condition:
    1. Government or other reasonable documentation requested by the agency to establish a family relationship (including, but not limited to, a birth certificate, marriage license, court order, joint lease, or joint bank account statement); and
    2. A completed “Certificate of Health Care Provider for Family Member’s Serious Health Condition” (DOL-WH380-F).

Submitting the Application

An employee must submit their application and supporting documentation to their agency Family and Medical Leave (FMLA) Coordinator. If supporting documentation is not available at the time of application, an agency may conditionally approve the application. If conditionally approved, the employee must submit supporting documents within four weeks (28 days) of the qualifying event. Refer to the note below on “Conditional Applications” for more details.

CONDITIONAL APPLICATIONS: Supporting documentation may not always be available prior to applying for the paid family leave benefit. For example, an employee may apply for leave for an anticipated adoption, but the court will not issue the custody order in advance. In those cases, the agency may approve an application conditionally, and the supporting documentation must be supplied to the agency no more than four weeks (28 days) following the qualifying event. If supporting documentation is not received within this period, the agency FMLA Coordinator may deny the application for paid family leave and the employee will be liable for any conditionally approved paid family leave that the employee has used.

The FMLA Coordinator will evaluate the application materials and notify the employee if they qualify for PFL, DCFMLA or federal FMLA. All PFL and FMLA related forms can be found under the “Forms” link on the DCHR intranet site at https://dchr.in.dc.gov under “Forms.”

NOTE: It is the employee’s responsibility to provide sufficient documentation and provide evidence of a qualifying event for paid family leave. If an employee fails to provide adequate evidence, which includes evidence of a familial relationship, the request may be denied.

Impermissible Family Leave Stacking 

An employee may not expand their DCFMLA or federal leave protections by applying for PFL for the same qualifying event if it was previously approved for DCFMLA or federal FMLA. In the event an employee requests and is approved for PFL following the use of DCFMLA or federal FMLA, the employee must work with the agency FMLA Coordinator and the agency Human Resources Advisor to affect a leave adjustment.


Agency Family and Medical Leave (FMLA) Coordinators

Each agency head must appoint an agency FMLA Coordinator. Each FMLA coordinator must have been employed with the District government for at least 5 years, have similar experience, or have been trained in Family and Medical Leave procedures. Agencies are also responsible for ensuring their employees are informed of the name(s) and contact information of the agency FMLA Coordinator(s). To avoid potential conflicts of interest, and except when the size of the agency necessitates otherwise, an agency head may not serve as the FMLA Coordinator for their agency.

The agency FMLA Coordinator serves as the primary contact in the agency on matters relating to paid family leave. FMLA Coordinators must process Family and Medical Leave Application forms as follows:

  1. Notice of Eligibility. Within five days of receiving any application, FMLA Coordinators must forward a notice of eligibility to an applicant (see attached FML-02 form).
  2. Notice of Leave Designation. Within five days of receiving the necessary documentation, FMLA Coordinators must provide applicants a letter informing them of their leave program designation and approval (or non-approval)(see attached forms FML 03, 3D and 3N). Agencies must forward all copies of documents to DCHR that resulted in a non-approval.
  3. Approval Notifications. If an employee is approved for paid family leave, the FMLA Coordinator must send an approval notification to the appropriate entities to ensure that the employee is credited for the approved leave (see attached form FML-04). Complete the FML-04, which is addressed to the District Family and Medical Leave Coordinator (DCHR).
  4. Employee Information. Agency FMLA Coordinators must confirm that the correct employee ID number and employee record number are shown on the FML-04 form.

Additional guidance concerning Notice of Eligibility, Notice of Leave Designation and Approval Notifications is provided below.

NOTE: All documentation submitted by employees in relation to PFL (e.g. application and medical documentation) is to remain confidential (see the “Records and Confidentiality” section in this issuance). The DCSF No. FML-04, Approval Notification, is the only document that may be disseminated to multiple personnel as identified on the form.

Notice of Eligibility

FMLA Coordinators must issue a Notice of Eligibility to an applicant within five days of receiving an application. The FMLA Coordinator shall also issue a Notice of Eligibility to an employee if they have been absent for a period of 3 or more days for family or medical reasons. To carry out this step, the FMLA Coordinator must determine eligibility, draft the notice, and issue the notice to the employee.

Determining Eligibility

The FMLA Coordinator must determine the programs (e.g. Paid Family Leave, DCFMLA, and federal FMLA) for which an applicant is eligible. Eligibility is determined by the date the leave period would start, not the date of application. Eligibility must be determined for each of the Family and Medical Leave programs: Paid Family Leave, DCFMLA, and federal FMLA.

Paid Family Leave

Employees are eligible for paid family leave if:

  1. They are neither temporary employees (employees appointed for less than 90 days) nor work on intermittent appointments; and
  2. They have not received paid family leave for another qualifying event within last 12 months of the proposed start date of the leave being requested. For example, if an employee was approved and paid for 8 workweeks paid family leave for a qualifying event that occurred on June 12, 2017, for leave starting on June 30, 2017, and ending on August 28, 2017, they may not receive paid family leave for a new qualifying event until August 29, 2018.

DC Family and Medical Leave

Employees are eligible for DCFMLA if:

  1. They served at least one year of continuous District service, and the one continuous year of service occurred within the last seven years;
  2. They received pay for at least 1,000 hours in the 12 months preceding their leave (including hours worked or compensated by annual, sick, holiday or other paid leave); and
  3. They have not exhausted the allowable 16 workweeks of District family or medical leave over the last 24 months.

Federal Family and Medical Leave Act

An employee is eligible if:

  1. They have been paid for 1,250 hours for actual work within the 12 months preceding the leave (paid leave does not count towards the 1,250 hours);
  2. They have been employed with the District government for at least one year; and
  3. They have not exhausted their allowable 12 weeks of federal family and medical leave over the preceding 12 months.

Drafting the Notice

FMLA Coordinators must complete a Notice of Eligibility letter within five days of receiving a family and medical leave application. To draft the letter, the FMLA Coordinator must first gather all the relevant information from personnel records, including:

  • The nature of the employee’s appointment;
  • The employee’s total years of service with the District government;
  • The total number of compensable hours for the last 12 months (usually 2,080 hours for fulltime employees);
  • The total number of regular work hours for which the employee received pay within the last 12 months;
  • If the employee was previously approved for Paid Family Leave for another qualifying event, the qualifying event date and the first and last date of leave usage for that event;
  • The combined number of hours of family and medical leave used in the last 12 months;
  • The total number of medical leave hours used in the last 24 months; and
  • The total number of family leave hours used in the last 24 months.

This information shall be used when completing the eligibility letter. The eligibility letter will guide the FMLA Coordinator’s determination of the family and medical leave program(s) for which the employee is eligible.


Issuing the Notice

After the FMLA Coordinator completes their review of the application and supporting documentation, the coordinator shall issue the notice to the employee. The notice must be delivered to the employee by commercial courier with tracking. The tracking number must be printed on the notice. If the employee is being notified that they are not eligible, a copy of the notification must be submitted to DCHR at dchr.fmla@.dc.gov (refer to the section entitled “District Family and Medical Leave Coordinator.”)


Notice of Leave Designation

The FMLA Coordinator must issue a Notice of Leave Designation to an applicant within five days of receiving the required documentation to determine whether the applicant qualifies for the requested leave. The Notice of Leave Designation letters inform employees whether their leave has been: (a) approved, (b) deferred because more information is needed, or (c) not approved, as appropriate.

If the applicant was issued the FML-3D (Deferral) letter because more information was needed, the applicant has an additional 10 business days to provide the required documentation to the FMLA Coordinator. Once the applicant provides the required documentation, or the 10-day period expires, the FMLA Coordinator must issue the FML-03 letter (Approval) or the FML-3N (Non-Approval) letter, as appropriate, within five days. The letter must be hand delivered or delivered by commercial courier (with tracking) to the employee. The tracking number must be printed on the notice.

NOTE: FMLA Coordinators must designate employees for all programs for which they are qualified. If PFL taken by an employee qualifies for DCFMLA, the FMLA Coordinator shall also designate the leave as DCFMLA. Similarly, if PFL taken by an employee qualifies for federal FMLA, they must also designate the leave as federal FMLA.

Approved Leave

Approvals should be made using the “Approved” designation letter template. In the letter, the FMLA Coordinator shall designate the employee for all the programs for which the employee is eligible and qualified. If possible, the FMLA Coordinator should indicate the total number of hours or weeks of program leave being used. Approval notifications must be copied to multiple parties (see “Approval Notifications” in this issuance).

Deferred Leave

Whenever an employee’s supporting documentation is insufficient to establish a qualifying event, agencies should issue a designation letter deferring a decision using the “Deferred” designation letter template. In this letter, the FMLA Coordinator should explain what documentation the employee is lacking, what additional information is needed to complete the approval process, and the period in which the employee must submit the additional information.

Not Approved Leave

The FMLA Coordinator will issue a “Not Approved” designation if the event being used to apply for leave does not qualify for PFL or the employee fails to provide the necessary supporting documentation in the required timeframe. In this case, the FMLA Coordinator will issue a designation letter using the “Not Approved” designation letter template. Copies of “Not Approved” letters must be sent to dchr.fmla@.dc.gov.


Approval Notifications

Whenever an employee is approved for paid family leave, the employee, the employee’s timekeeper (or equivalent), the employee’s immediate supervisor, the agency head, and DCHR must be notified. The Family and Medical Leave Coordinator must submit approval notifications as follows:

  1. DCHR. Email to dchr.fmla@dc.gov.
  2. Employee. A copy of the FML-04 must be provided to the employee.
  3. Timekeeper (or equivalent). A copy of the FML-04 must be provided to the employee’s timekeeper (or equivalent).
  4. Supervisor. A copy of the FML-04 must also be provided to the employee’s immediate supervisor or manager (whoever typically approves their leave).
  5. Agency head. Send a copy of the FML-04 approval notification to the employee’s agency head.

Taking Leave; Timekeeping

Leave Requests Required

For time recording purposes, the employee or their timekeeper (or equivalent) must request paid family leave using standard PeopleSoft eTime leave procedures. If an agency requires the submission of paper leave slips, the employee must submit the D.C. Standard Form 71, Application for Leave (or equivalent). (The employee may need to add Paid Family Leave as a category on the paper form.)

Use of Paid Family Leave

When approved for paid family leave, the employee or their timekeeper (or equivalent) must submit time using the paid family leave time reporting code (“Paid Family Leave – Taken”) (PFL-T) for the day(s) that the employee is on approved leave. PFL hours can only be used in whole day increments, even if the PFL leave is used intermittently.

Example 1

Jason regularly works an eight-hour day, has been approved for intermittent PFL and anticipates he will only need four hours to take a family member to an eye appointment following surgery. When entering the PFL hours in PeopleSoft, he can only enter a period of eight hours (a whole work day) of PFL for that day.

Example 2

Deborah works a compressed work schedule of nine-hour days, has been approved for intermittent PFL, and requires the use of two hours to take a family member to physical therapy. When entering the PFL hours in PeopleSoft, she can only enter a period of nine hours (a whole work day) of PFL for that day. However, if the appointment fell on her one eight-hour day, she would still use a whole day, but enter eight hours of PFL for that day.

NOTE: If an agency Timekeeper (or equivalent) has observed that PFL hours entered in PeopleSoft eTime are for a period that is less than a whole day, the timekeeper must notify the employee and their supervisor that the time must be corrected.

Employees should only use the time reporting code for PFL (PFL-T) when they qualify for and have been approved for Paid Family Leave.

Expiration of Leave and Adjustments

If approved for paid family leave, the employee must use their leave within 12 months of the qualifying event. Otherwise, any unused paid family leave credited to the employee for that event will expire and will no longer be available for use.

If an employee uses any of his or her accrued leave before the PFL is credited in Peoplesoft, the agency FMLA Coordinator must request an adjustment to have that leave restored prior to the date the PFL leave is to expire. Any agency requests for adjustments received by the Office of Pay and Retirement Services (OPRS) after the expiration date will not be processed.


Use of Intermittent PFL

In the event an employee has been approved for PFL on an intermittent basis, the employee must submit a leave request in the same manner as sick leave as provided in § 1242.5 of Chapter 12 of the D.C. personnel regulations or a collective bargaining agreement (if applicable). Though PFL has been previously approved by the FMLA Coordinator, an employee must submit a leave request(s) to their supervisor for any impending absence(s) so that any project or staffing concerns can be addressed. Additionally, an employee needing intermittent leave must work with their immediate supervisor to schedule such leave so as to not disrupt government operations.

As stated previously, PFL can only be used in whole day increments, even if the leave is being used intermittently.


Timekeepers

While agencies have designated FMLA Coordinators to respond to PFL-related issues, other important points of contact in the FMLA process may include the agency timekeeper, Payroll Supervisor, or Quality Assurance Liaison. As the FMLA Coordinator can respond to general PFL-related concerns, timekeepers (and their equivalent) support FMLA Coordinators by responding to questions concerning time entry following OPRS’ crediting of PFL hours into Peoplesoft. Timekeepers also confirm that hours are entered in accordance with the program’s time reporting requirements (e.g., using PFL TRCs in whole day increments and inputting the correct time reporting code(s)).


District Family and Medical Leave Coordinator

DCHR serves as the District Family and Medical Leave Coordinator for subordinate agencies and independent agencies with service agreements with DCHR. As such, DCHR provides agency FMLA Coordinators with guidance on the processing of paid family leave, as well as information concerning DCFMLA and federal FMLA. The District FMLA Coordinator ensures that the program operates smoothly across the District government and maintains statistics on program usage. The District FMLA Coordinator also conducts a review of submitted and approved FML-04s received from subordinate agencies and transmits the FML-04s to OPRS for processing.

For the above reasons, agency FMLA Coordinators are required to submit notices of ineligibility, letters denying leave, and FML-04s to DCHR via dchr.fmla@dc.gov. Once received, DCHR will follow-up with the agency FMLA Coordinator if additional information is required.

NOTE: Upon receipt of the FML-04 form from DCHR, OPRS will complete its processing and credit the employee’s approved PFL hours into PeopleSoft within 10 workdays. In no instance shall an agency FMLA Coordinator send a duplicate FML-04 to OPRS unless there has been an amendment to the FML-04. If a change has occurred, the word “Amendment” must be clearly shown at the top of the form.

Premium Pay

Except as provided in an applicable collective bargaining agreement, District government employees who qualify for and have been approved for leave under the Paid Family Leave Program are not entitled to receive premium pay for any day(s) in which the employee receives paid family leave.


Records and Confidentiality

Records

Agency FMLA Coordinators are responsible for maintaining all applications, supporting documentation, and agency notifications and responses for each employee who submits a request for paid family leave. These records must be kept confidential and maintained in a sealed envelope separate from the employee’s official personnel folder (OPF) or in a secure electronic repository.

Confidentiality

Agency FMLA Coordinators that have access to employee information pertaining to the Paid Family Leave Program are responsible and accountable for safeguarding the integrity, security, and confidentiality of these records regardless of form. FMLA Coordinators must protect such records from unauthorized access, use, modification, destruction, or improper disclosure.


Legal

Authority

  1. Sec. 7026 of Subtitle B of Title VII (Prior Budget Act Amendments) of the Fiscal Year 2016 Budget Support Act of 2015 (D.C. Law 21-36), effective October 22, 2015;
  2. Secs. 1052 and 1053 of Subtitle F of Title I (Government Family Leave Program) of the Fiscal Year 2015 Budget Support Act of 2014 (D.C. Law 20-155), effective February 26, 2015; and
  3. Secs. 1283 through 1288 of Chapter 12 of Title 6-B of the District of Columbia Municipal Regulations.

 

Applicability

The provisions of this issuance apply to those District government agencies that are subordinate to the Mayor’s personnel authority. Other personnel authorities or independent agencies may adopt any or all of these procedures to provide guidance to employees under their respective jurisdictions.


Definitions

As used in this issuance:

“Child” means a person under 21 years of age; a person, regardless of age, who is substantially dependent upon the employee by reason of physical or mental disability; or a person who is under 23 years of age who is a full-time student at an accredited college or university.

“Committed relationship” means a domestic partnership, as defined in section 2(4) of the Health Care Expansion Act of 1992; D.C. Official Code § 32-701(4), or a familial relationship between two individuals demonstrated by such factors as, but not limited to, mutual economic interdependence, including joint bank accounts, joint tenancy, shared lease, and joint and mutual financial obligations such as loans; domestic interdependence, including close association, public presentment of the relationship, and exclusiveness of the relationship; length of the relationship; and the intent of the relationship, as evidenced by a will or life insurance.

“Day(s)” means calendar days for periods of 10 or more days, otherwise it means workdays.

“Eligible employee” means a District government employee who has experienced a qualifying event and is neither a temporary employee nor works on an intermittent schedule.

“Family member” means a person to whom the employee is related by blood, legal custody, domestic partnership, or marriage; a foster child; a child who lives with the employee and for whom the employee permanently assumes and discharges parental responsibility; or a person with whom the employee shares or has shared, within the last year, a mutual residence and with whom the employee maintains a committed relationship.

“Intermittent” means an employee serving on an intermittent basis (also referred to as “when actually employed” (WAE) that is, non-full-time without a prescheduled regular tour of duty. This employee provides occasional or irregular services on programs or projects on an as needed basis.

“Intermittent usage” means the periodic use of PFL following the birth or adoption of a child, or to care for a family member with serious health condition.

“Serious health condition” means a physical or mental illness, injury, or impairment that involves inpatient care in a hospital, hospice, or residential health care facility, or continuing treatment or supervision at home by a health care provider or other competent individual.

“Temporary Employee” means an employee appointed for less than 90 days (see D.C. Act 20-566 (Jan. 9, 2015)).

“Qualifying event” means the birth of a child of the employee; the legal placement of a child with the employee (such as through adoption, guardianship, or foster care); the placement with the employee of a child for whom the employee permanently assumes and discharges parental responsibilities; or the care of a family member of the employee who has a serious health condition.

“Workweek” means the customary work schedule for the period of Sunday through Saturday. For a typical, full time employee, this will mean a workweek of Monday through Friday, eight hours per day, or 40 hours per workweek. A workweek is based on the employee’s typical tour of duty and may be more or less than 40 hours per workweek.


Additional Information

For additional information concerning the provisions of this issuance, employees are encouraged to contact their agency FMLA Coordinator, or the Department of Human Resources’ Employee Relations Unit, by calling (202) 442-9700 or by sending an e-mail to dchr.policy@dc.gov.

In addition, employees are encouraged to contact their agency FMLA Coordinator to review any agency-specific policy materials developed pertaining to the PFL.


Attachments

  1. Attachment 1 - Understanding the Qualifying Event Date
  2. Attachment 2 - FML-01 - Family and Medical Leave Application
  3. Attachment 3- FML-02 - Eligibility Notification
  4. Attachment 4 - FML-03 - Approval Designation Letter
  5. Attachment 5 - FML-3D - Deferred Letter
  6. Attachment 6 - FML-3N - Not Approved Designation Letter
  7. Attachment 7 - FML-04 - Approval Notification
  8. Attachment 8 - Form WH-380-F - Healthcare Provider Certification
  9. Attachment 9 - Questions and Answers

Issued by Director Ventris C. Gibson, D.C. Department of Human Resources on Nov. 3, 2019, midnight