DC Auditor Calls for Proactive Enforcement of DC’s Paid Sick Days Law
The Office of the D.C. Auditor has released a report on the District’s paid sick and safe leave law, using data collected through surveys sent to 6000 D.C. businesses and site visits. In the audit, only 58.2% of employers surveyed report offering paid sick days to their employees, though almost all D.C. employees are covered by the Earned Sick and Safe Leave Amendment Act and the Accrued Sick and Safe Leave Act. Echoing the demands of the Just Pay Coalition, the group of organizations who worked to pass these two laws, the audit urges the Department of Employment Services to “develop a comprehensive program to ensure that all District businesses are aware of the requirements” of the law.
The actual percentage of businesses that are complying with D.C.’s paid sick days law may be even lower than the audit suggests because business owners were asked to self-report via an online survey. Our canvassers reached out to hundreds of workers at D.C. businesses throughout last year and found that 70% of workers had never heard about D.C.’s paid sick days law despite the fact that it has been in effect since 2008. Almost 71% of the workers we surveyed were not receiving paid sick days.
We still have a long way to go to enforce and implement the District’s paid sick days laws. The government agency tasked with implementing D.C.’s labor standards laws, the Department of Employment Services, has recently begun a new educational project which visits employers in each D.C. zip code to ensure that they have received and posted the required notices on paid sick days, minimum wage and wage theft.
In the report, the auditor also suggested that the Department of Employment Services devote additional resources to inspections and enforcement of the paid sick days law. The Zip Code Project should be expanded after its initial period to proactively inspect records of District businesses to ensure that they are paying the minimum wage, offering overtime to employees who work more than 40 hours a week and allowing workers to accrue and take paid sick days. These inspections will help guarantee a level playing field for all employers in D.C. and allow workers to take time to care for themselves and their families when they are sick.