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Know Your Rights: District of Columbia Paid Family Leave

Wage replacement benefits when you take leave from work because you have experienced a qualifying family or medical event:

Under the DC Universal Paid Leave Act, an eligible employee can receive wage replacement benefits when they take time off from work for medical, family, or parental reasons.

  • Up to 2 weeks of paid medical leave benefits are available when you have a diagnosis or occurrence of a serious health condition.
  • Up to 6 weeks of paid family leave benefits are available when you need to care for a qualifying family member (a child, foster child, parent, parent-in-law, those related by domestic partnership, a grandparent, or a sibling) who has a diagnosis or occurrence of a serious health condition.
  • Up to 8 weeks of paid parental leave benefits are available for:
    • The birth of a child,
    • The placement of a child for adoption or foster care; or
    • The placement of a child for whom you legally assume and discharge parental responsibility.

How it works:

  • You must wait one week after you submit your application before receiving paid leave benefits.
  • You may take the paid leave all at once or you may take it intermittently.

Click here and scroll to the bottom of the page to calculate your benefit amount.


In order to be an “eligible individual” you have to be employed (in a job in which you are working primarily in D.C.) all or some of the preceding 52 weeks prior to submitting your application for benefits. According to the D.C. Department of Employment Services, this means you have to be currently employed at the time of application. If you have been employed in DC for some or all of the preceding 52 weeks, but are not currently employed, please contact us for additional legal advice.

You cannot receive unemployment compensation benefits and paid family leave benefits at the same time.


Job Protection

The Universal Paid Leave Act does not provide job protection. To be able to take leave and return to your job, you must have job protection from another source, like the DC Family and Medical Leave Act or the DC Protecting Pregnant Workers Fairness Act.


Requesting Leave

The law says you must notify your employer at least 10 days in advance of submitting your application for paid leave benefits if your need for paid family leave benefits is foreseeable (ex. maternity leave or scheduled surgery). However, in order to request job-protected leave under the D.C. Family Medical Leave Act you must notify your employer at least 30 days in advance. Generally, you should notify your employer of your need for job-protected leave and paid leave benefits as far in advance as possible.



Your employer cannot punish or fire you just because you request or receive paid family leave benefits; if you experience retaliation, you can file a complaint at the D.C. Office of Human Rights.

Click here for a printable version

Click here for a FAQ guide to paid family leave benefits

Click here for information on paid family leave benefits and COVID-19

Click here for more information on paid family leave benefits for medical leave and caregiving

Is D.C.’s Paid Family Leave Benefits Program for Me?

Timeline for Paid Family Leave Benefits (Medical and Caregiving Leave)

Timeline for Paid Family Leave Benefits (Pregnancy and Parenting Leave)

Haga clic aquí para ver hojas informativas en español

We are available to advise you on your eligibility to receive universal paid leave insurance benefits and to counsel you on your rights to job-protected leave, whether to bond with a new child, to care for a family member with a serious health condition, or for your own qualifying medical event. We can also guide you through the paid leave insurance benefits application process. Please contact intake@firstshift.org or call (240) 241-0897 (Ext. 1 for English and other languages, Ext. 2 for Spanish) for more information.

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