On March 17, 2020, the Council of the District of Columbia adopted the COVID-19 Response Emergency Amendment Act of 2020 (“Emergency Act”).  The Emergency Act, among other things, provides relief for D.C. employees and businesses during periods of public and public health emergencies, which Mayor Muriel Bowser declared on March 11.

Unemployment Compensation.  Affected employees are eligible for unemployment compensation regardless of whether their employer has provided a date certain for the employee to return to work or whether the employee has a reasonable expectation of continued employment with the current employer.  Benefits paid to affected employees will not be charged against the employer’s experience rating account.  Affected employees are those who have become unemployed due to the public health emergency, such as quarantine, ceased or reduced employer operations, or reduction in revenue.

Family and Medical Leave.  The one-year employment and 1,000-hour work requirements do not apply to an employee who has been ordered or recommended to quarantine.  An employee who is unable to work as a result of the emergency is entitled to Declaration-of-Emergency (DOE) Leave.  A recommendation from the federal or District government or medical professional to quarantine shall serve as certification for the leave.  DOE Leave applies to all employers regardless of the number of employees.

Sales Tax Payment Relief.  The deadline for businesses, except hotels, to pay sales tax for periods ending in February and March is extended to July 20, 2020.

Small Business Grants.  The Department of Small and Local Business Development (DSLBD) may issue grants to eligible small businesses that demonstrate financial distress caused by the emergency for employee wages and benefits, operating costs, and repayment of federal Small Business Administration loans.

Biennial Reports.  The deadline for business entities to file the first biennial report for 2020 with the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA) has been extended to June 1, 2020 from April 1, 2020.

Council Chair Phil Mendelson stated that this is the first of several legislative measures to respond to this fast-moving situation.  We will continue to monitor the District’s response.


This material is for informational purposes only and should not be relied on for legal advice.  For legal assistance with an employment or business matter, contact our Firm through the “Contact Us” page on our website, or call us at 202-795-9999.