Before You Apply
The District of Columbia’s Paid Family Leave program provides employees with benefits when they are out on leave from work to bond with a new child, take care of a family member, or take care of their own serious health condition.
For important information about the Paid Family Leave program and applying for benefits, click here to download our Employee Handbook.
DON’T DELAY TO FILE A CLAIM
In general, we do not accept claims for leave taken before the date on which you file a claim. In most cases, you must plan to take leave on or after the date on which you file for Paid Family Leave benefits. In some situations, an exception may apply to you. For more information on “exigent circumstances,” see pages 17 and 18 of the Employee Handbook.
For the first claim you submit in a year, you will have a 7-day waiting period. The waiting period starts on the first day you experienced the event. The waiting period does not necessarily start on the day you submit a claim, unless that was also the first day of the event. You only have one waiting period per year. For information, please read Chapter 2 in the Employee Handbook.
Before You Apply
In order to submit a Paid Family Leave claim, you must:
- Have experienced a qualifying event
- Know the days on which you intend to take leave in the future due to this event (in general, you are not allowed to request benefits for leave in the past)
- Have documentation proving the occurrence of your qualifying event
- Be currently employed by a covered employer in DC
Documents You Will Need
For Parental Leave: Proof of a qualifying event showing:
- The child's name
- The claimant's name
- The date of the birth or placement
For Family Leave:
- The Family Leave Medical Certification Form (PFL-FMC)
- The Certification of Family Relationship Form (PFL-FR)
For Medical Leave:
You can receive parental leave benefits if one of the following happens:
- Your biological child was born in the past year
- A child was placed with you for adoption in the past year
- A child was placed with you for foster care in the past year
- You legally assumed parental responsibility for a child in the past year.
The "past year" for parental leave means one year from the calendar date on which the event occurred. For example, if a child was placed with you on August 4, 2020, you would have until August 3, 2021 to take leave and receive Paid Family Leave benefits for that leave. You can receive benefits for up to 8 weeks in a year to bond with a new child.
Paid Family Leave family leave benefits allows you to be with your family in difficult times and to provide needed care and companionship to your loved ones when they need it the most. You can only receive family leave benefits if you will be providing care or companionship to your family member with a serious health condition. You can receive benefits for up to 6 weeks in a year.
Eligible family members to whom you may provide care or companionship and receive family leave benefits, include:
- Your child
- Your parent
- Your grandparent
- Your spouse
- Your sibling
You can receive medical leave benefits if you have a serious health condition that prevents you from working, attending school, or performing regular activities of daily living. Being “prevented” from doing these things could mean either the physical inability to do them or the inability to attend them because you are seeking treatment for your serious health condition. A serious health condition can be either physical or mental in nature and can be an injury, illness, or impairment. You can receive benefits for up to 2 weeks in a year.
Before you apply for benefits online, use our application checklist below to make sure you have all the items you need.
Tell Your Employer
As long as you have reason to believe that you will need time off for a qualifying event, the law requires you to tell your employer that you will be taking time off at least 10 days before you need the leave. It is best to do this in writing so that there is a record that you gave notice. When you tell your employer that you will be on leave, you must include the following things in what you tell your employer:
- The type of Paid Family Leave benefits you will be applying for You do not need to tell any details to your employer about your Paid Family Leave claim. You only need to say whether the leave will be for “parental leave,” “family leave,” or “medical leave.”
- How long you expect to be out on leave This could be any length of time from a few days to weeks or months. You should be as specific as possible.
- The expected start and end dates of the leave If you are unsure of the exact dates, you should give an estimate. If you are taking family or medical leave, your doctor should be able to provide you with an estimate.
- Your leave schedule You need to tell your employer whether you will be out for one single period of time (this is known as “continuous leave”) or whether you will be working and taking leave during the same period or even within the same week (this is known as “intermittent leave”). You need to be specific about the days you will be out on leave.
Choose an Authorized Representative
An authorized representative is someone who is allowed to submit and manage Paid Family Leave claims on your behalf. You are not required to choose an authorized representative, but you may do so, if you want. In certain circumstances, some people will always be allowed by OPFL to submit and manage claims on your behalf because they are always considered to be authorized representatives by our office. In these cases, you do not need to give proof in advance of the qualifying event to OPFL that these individuals are authorized to act on your behalf. These individuals are:
- Your legal guardian if you are under 18
- Someone holding power of attorney on your behalf
When a doctor says that you are unable to act on your own behalf, your legal guardian will be allowed to submit and manage claims on your behalf. If you choose to elect an authorized representative, you must complete the Power of Attorney form (PFL-POA).
Filing for Parental Leave
You must provide proof that a qualifying event has occurred. This proof can be one of the following:
- A birth certificate
- A hospital admission form given to you when you gave birth
- A document from a medical provider who provided care to the newborn child
- A court document showing custody of a child and the date on which you took custody of the child
- A document from an adoption or foster care agency involved in the placement of your child that confirms the placement with you and the date of the placement
Your documents must show the following 3 things:
- The child’s name
- The claimant’s name
- The date of the birth or placement
Filing for Family Leave
- Have your healthcare provider complete the Family Medical Certification Form (PFL-FMC)
- Submit the Family Certification of Family Relationship Form (PFL-FR)
Filing for Medical Leave
- Have your healthcare provider complete the Medical Certification Form (PFL-MMC)