Washington, D.C. City Council recently passed the Accrued Sick and Safe Leave Act, which requires all city businesses to provide paid sick leave for their employees. The Act does not become effective until the Mayor approves it and until a 30-day Congressional review period passes without Congress acting on the bill. If the Act becomes law, D.C. will become the second city in the United States to require employers to provide paid sick leave. San Francisco became the first in 2006. D.C. would become, however, the first jurisdiction to provide paid leave related to incidents of domestic or sexual violence. 

Under the Act, all business within the District must provide their qualifying employees with paid leave time that can be used in cases of physical or mental illness or injury, to care for a sick family member, for preventative medical care, or to cover certain absences associated with domestic or sexual violence. The number of paid leave days depends on company size, and certain employees are not covered by the Act. The Act also imposes obligations on employees who seek leave, including notification requirements for both foreseeable and unforeseeable leave and medical certifications in some instances. Finally, the Act makes it unlawful for employers to discriminate or retaliate against employees who use paid leave and requires employers to post in the workplace a notice outlining the provisions of the Act.

The D.C. Act is part of a growing movement – including the proposed Ohio Healthy Families Act (OHFA) – to push for paid sick leave laws. OHFA and the D.C. Act, which are similar in many respects, both would impose significant burdens on employers. Companies following this trend should continue to watch closely as D.C. and other jurisdictions, including Ohio, take action on paid sick leave legislation.

As for Ohio’s efforts to pass a paid sick leave law, progress on the proposed law seems to be at a standstill. After being sent to the General Assembly in early January, Ohio’s Healthy Families Act has received no formal attention by the legislature. Neither the House or Senate has taken any action on the proposal. It has not been given a number and has not been assigned to a committee. Ohio legislators have until early May to act. If they don’t, backers of the OHFA will have 90 days to collect a second set of different signatures to place the Act on the November 2008 general election ballot.