New Washington, DC Wage Law with Sweeping Changes In Effect This Week

February 24, 2015

By Nichole D. Atallah



On February 26, 2015, the Amended DC Wage Theft Prevention Act (the “Act”) goes into effect and imposes several new obligations on Washington, DC employers.  The Act makes sweeping changes to notice and recordkeeping requirements and imposes heavy penalties on employers that violate the Act. The following describes several obligations of which DC employers should be aware:

Pay Notice Requirements

Within 90 days of the Act’s effective date, or May 27, 2015, DC employers must furnish a wage notice to employees containing the following: 

  • Employer’s name (and any “doing business as” names), address (main office and a mailing address, if different) and telephone number; 
  • Employee’s regular pay rate; 
  • the basis of that rate (e.g., hour, shift, day, week, salary, piece or commission; any allowances claimed as part of the minimum wage, including tip, meal, or lodging allowances; overtime or living wage rate of pay or exemptions from the same; and any applicable prevailing wages); and
  • Regular designated paydays. 

Following the initial notice, employers must immediately provide all new employees with written notice upon hiring. Temporary staffing firms are subject to different notice requirements. Employers are required to provide an amended notice should information in the notice change.  The mayor is supposed to provide a template notice within 60 days of the effective date.

The notice must be furnished in both English and the employee’s primary language.  If the mayor has issued a sample notice template in the second language and the employer knows that the second language is the employee’s primary language or the employee requests a notice form in that second language, then the employer must also furnish the notice in the second language.

Employers must keep copies of the written notice provided to employees that are signed and dated by the employer and by the employee to acknowledge the employee’s receipt of the notice.

Timekeeping Requirement

The Act requires employers to keep records of the exact time worked each day and each workweek by employees. This means employers must not only keep record of total hours worked, but actual time the employee began work and ended work (e.g. 8:30 a.m. to 12:31 p.m.).

Originally, the Act applied this requirement to both exempt and non-exempt employees, but has been since amended to apply to only non-exempt employees and certain exempt employees such as seamen, railroad employees, car salesmen, parking lot and parking garage attendants, and airport employees who voluntarily switch shifts with other employees.  

Posting Requirement

Employers are required to post a copy or summary of the Minimum Wage Revision Act and the new notice requirements in a place easily accessible by employees.  However, in order for employers to be held accountable, the mayor must provide a notice to employees within 60 days of the Act’s effective date.    

The Act provides several avenues for employees to assert claims against employers.  The penalties for a violation of the Act are severe and include new criminal penalties for negligent violations as well as willful violations, increased civil penalties in some cases, and the loss or suspension of an employer’s business licenses.

The Act also prohibits retaliation against employees for complaining of wage and hour violations, creating a rebuttable presumption of retaliation if an adverse action is taken against an employee within 90 days of the employee’s engagement in protected activity. An employer can only rebut the presumption with clear and convincing evidence which means that it is imperative that employers review their discipline policies and enforce them consistently. 

Although these new requirements may seem burdensome, it is also an opportunity for employers to review their payment practices and policies for their employees, whether they work in DC or in another jurisdiction. If you do not currently have anti-retaliation provisions specifically crafted for wage and hour policies in your employee handbook, you should consider adding them. You must also insure that you are prepared to implement the new recordkeeping and notice requirements imposed by the Act and develop a system to stay in compliance.

About the author: Nichole Atallah is an associate with PilieroMazza in the Labor and Employment Group.  She may be reached at natallah@pilieromazza.com.

 

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