Washington DC Labor Laws for HR Compliance – 2023

dc labor laws 2023 HR Compliance

DC Labor Laws – One of the Toughest for HR Compliance

If you are doing business in the District of Columbia as an employer, it is important to stay up-to-date on the latest labor laws to ensure compliance and avoid costly penalties. These penalties include fines, criminal convictions and imprisonment, attorney fees, and court-ordered payment of punitive damages. With the start of 2023, several new labor laws have come into effect in Washington DC, and others have been around in various iterations for a while. In this guide, we’ll cover all the essential labor laws and local regulations that you need to know to stay compliant in 2023.

Minimum Wage

minimum wage

Effective Jul 1, 2022, the minimum wage in Washington DC has increased to $16.10 per hour, up from $15.20 per hour in 2021. This applies to all employees who are at least 18 years old, except for tipped employees, who have a separate minimum wage of $5.35 per hour. This minimum wage will increase to $17.00 per hour July 1, 2023. Employers must ensure that their employees are paid at least the minimum wage for all hours worked, including overtime. In addition to DC minimum wage, a few years ago, the District amended its Wage Theft Prevention Amendment Act to increase penalties on failure to pay earned wages and maintain accurate pay information.

Noncompliance penalties: For minimum wage violations or wage theft, employers can be convicted as guilty of a misdemeanor and can be fined up to $10,000 and face imprisonment, plus administrative penalties that could be assessed (up to $500 for each failure). Employer judgements include retroactive payment of wages earned.



In Washington DC, non-exempt employees are entitled to overtime pay at a rate of 1.5 times their regular rate of pay for all hours worked over 40 hours in a workweek. Exempt employees, such as executives and professionals, and other employees with special exemptions are not entitled to overtime pay. It’s important to properly classify employees as exempt or non-exempt to ensure compliance with overtime laws.

Noncompliance penalties: The penalties can include fines, legal action, and even criminal charges. Employers who violate overtime laws can be subject to penalties up to $500 per violation, and up to $1,000 per violation for repeat offenders. Additionally, employees may be able to recover unpaid overtime wages and liquidated damages equal to the amount of unpaid overtime, as well as attorneys’ fees and costs if they pursue legal action.

Paid Sick Leave

Under the Accrued Sick and Safe Leave Act (ASSL), employees in Washington DC are entitled to paid sick leave. For every 43 hours worked, employees must accrue one hour of paid sick leave, up to a maximum of 56 hours per year. Employees must accrue leave immediately upon hire, and must be allowed to use the paid sick leave no later than 90 days after hire. Employers must allow employees to use sick leave for their own illness or injury, to care for a family member, or for reasons related to domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking.

Noncompliance penalties: Each offense in violation of the Act is fined. First violation is $1,000, second is $1,500, and all violations thereafter are $2,000 each.

Paid Family and Medical Leave

family leave

The DC Family and Medical Leave Act (DCFMLA) provides paid family leave benefits for specified covered events. They are:

  1. Parental Leave – bonding with new child for up to twelve (12) weeks per year
  2. Family Leave – caring for a family member up to six (6) weeks per year
  3. Medical Leave – time away for your own serious health conditions for up to six (6) weeks in a year
  4. Prenatal Leave – time away for prenatal medical care for up to two (2) weeks per year


As of October 1, 2022, the maximum total for DCFMLA leave in any given year is eight (8) weeks per year (12 for Parental Leave), and up to 10 to include the additional two weeks of Prenatal Leave. See the entitlement rules to determine specific requirements for eligibility to take leave for each covered event.

Noncompliance penalties: The penalty for not posting the DCFMLA poster is $100 fine for each day of noncompliance. Employers are required to register on the DOES portal to pay quarterly taxes to the Paid Family Leave fund.


In Washington DC, it is illegal to discriminate against employees on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age, marital status, personal appearance, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, family responsibilities, genetic information, disability, or any other protected status. Employers must ensure that their employment practices do not discriminate against employees or applicants based on any of these protected characteristics.

As part of the Unemployed Anti-Discrimination Act of 2012 (UADA) (effective October 1, 2015), employers are prohibited from discriminating on applicants by:

  • Refusing or failing to consider hiring a job applicant because the individual is unemployed;
  • Refusing or failing to hire a job applicant because the individual is unemployed;
  • Indicating in a job vacancy announcement that an applicant will not be considered or hired because they are unemployed, or is disqualified for the job because they are unemployed; and
  • Retaliating against an employee who opposes or reports a violation of this Act.

Noncompliance penalties: The DC Commission on Human Rights investigates UADA violations and hands out penalties. Each offense in violation of the UADA is fined. First violation is $1,000, second is $5,000, and all violations thereafter are $10,000 each. Violations of the District of Columbia Human Rights Act may result in investigations by the Commission, with potential damages awarded if a violation is found to have occurred.

Workplace Safety

workplace safety

The Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) requires employers to provide a safe and healthy workplace for their employees. Employers must comply with OSHA regulations and provide employees with training, protective equipment, and other necessary measures to ensure workplace safety.


The District of Columbia falls under federal OSHA jurisdiction, so DC is governed and advised by OSHA consultation services.

Noncompliance penalties: As of January 17, 2023, based on severity, OSHA violations can result in fines up to $15,625 per violation, with maximum penalty for willful or repeat offenses set at $156,259 per violation! Corrective actions required by employers include audit requirements and special occupational safety and health training.

Workers’ Compensation

workers comp

In Washington DC, covered employers (employers with more than one employee) are required to provide workers’ compensation insurance coverage to their employees. This insurance provides benefits to employees who are injured or become ill as a result of their work. Covered employers must ensure that their workers’ compensation insurance coverage is up-to-date and that they comply with all reporting requirements. Regarding accidental injury and occupational disease reporting, employers must deliver No. 7 OCWC report to the insurer for each incident, as soon as possible but no later than ten (10) days after learning of the incident. Previously unreported disabilities of more than three (3) days must be reported to the insurer ASAP, but no later than ten (10) days after learning of the disabilities.

Noncompliance penalties: If you fail to obtain coverage or fail to report workers’ compensation reportable incidents, you can be fined up to $10,000.


DC’s unemployment law, District of Columbia Unemployment Compensation Act, provides unemployment benefits to eligible workers who have lost their job through no fault of their own. Employers in DC are required to pay unemployment insurance taxes and to comply with certain reporting and notification requirements.

Under DC’s unemployment law, employers must register with the DC Department of Employment Services (DOES) within 30 days of becoming subject to the unemployment insurance tax. Employers must also report certain information to DOES, such as wages paid to employees, on a quarterly basis. Additionally, employers must provide certain notices to their employees, such as a notice of their right to file for unemployment benefits.

Noncompliance penalties: The penalties for noncompliance with DC’s unemployment law can include fines, legal action, and other consequences. For example, employers who fail to register with DOES can be subject to a penalty of up to $1,000 for each quarter of noncompliance. Employers who fail to report wages or who submit false reports can be subject to penalties of up to $5,000 per violation. Additionally, employers who fail to provide required notices to their employees can be subject to a penalty of up to $100 for each employee who did not receive the notice.

DC Poster Compliance

In addition to the Federal posters for compliance that you would need to display in a conspicuous location in your offices, these posters must also be displayed:

  • District of Columbia Minimum Wage
  • Wage Theft Prevention Act
  • Paid Family Leave
  • DC Family and Medical Leave Act (DCFMLA)
  • DC Parental Leave Act
  • Accrued Sick and Safe Leave Act
  • Occupational Safety and Health
  • EEOC Know Your Rights: Workplace Discrimination is Illegal
  • Equal Employment Opportunity
  • Notice of Non-Discrimination in Public Accommodations
  • Protecting Pregnant Workers Fairness Act
  • Breastfeeding Rights & Guidelines
  • Unemployment Compensation Notice
  • Workers’ Compensation Notice


There are more posters required, based on your industry. For example, the Restaurant industry must post the Tipped Wage Workers Fairness Act poster.

Voluntary, but highly encouraged posters are:

  • Pregnancy and Parental Rights in the Workplace
  • The Right to Breastfeed
  • LGBTQ Diversity in the Workplace

Compliance with DC labor laws is essential, but you already know this. What you find out with trial and error is that labor compliance in places like Washington DC is nearly a full-time job. By staying up-to-date on the latest labor laws, you can ensure that your business is in compliance and avoid costly penalties. Remember to review your policies and procedures regularly to ensure that they are in line with the latest labor laws. This guide will show you the way, but if you’re short on time, it won’t do you much good just to know this info. Someone still has to execute the strategic plan, taking action to audit for HR compliance and and continuously mitigate these risks.

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Cody Bess