DC Employers Staffing Large Office Buildings Must Provide Building Service Employees a 30-hour Work Week Starting October 1

Starting October 1, District of Columbia employers must provide “building service employees” a minimum 30 hour work week at commercial office buildings with more than 350,000 square feet of office space. The Building Service Employees Minimum Work Week Act of 2016 affects employers including any individual, business, or non-profit entity that directly employs or contracts for janitorial, cleaning, or building maintenance services at a commercial office building of this size.

One carve-out in the law applies to employees engaged in a cleaning service. Up to 20% of the total work hours of all cleaning service employees each week may be preserved for part-time cleaning service employees. However, these employees must be assigned a minimum shift of 4 hours per day and 20 hours per week. No more than 10 part-time cleaning service positions are permitted at a given commercial office building covered by the Act. For example, if there are four full-time cleaning service employees working 30 hours per week each, then there may be one part-time cleaning service employee. If there are 34 full-time cleaning service employees working 30 hours per week each, then the maximum of 10 part-time cleaning service employees is allowed.

Covered employers must post and maintain, in a conspicuous place, a notice published by the DC mayor that includes excerpts from or summaries of law and information on filing a complaint. Employers must post the notice in English and all languages spoken by employees with limited or no English proficiency.

The law provides an administrative process to address violations of the law. An employee may file an official complaint with the mayor. Employers who fail to comply with minimum work week requirements will subject employers to a fine of not more than $5,000 for each violation for each day that the violation continues. Failure to comply with notice posting requirements will be subject to a fine of not more than $100 for each day that the employer fails to provide notice not to exceed $500.

Additionally, the law provides a private right of action that allows an employee aggrieved by a violation of the act to sue his or her employer in DC Superior Court. If the employee prevails, he or she is entitled to reinstatement, lost wages, liquidated damages of $100 per day for each day of violation, attorney’s fees and costs, and any medical costs resulting from the violation, presumably because under the ACA the employee would have been eligible for health insurance coverage through their employer as if they were working 30 hours per week.

Julie Reddig helps employers build and maintain productive workplaces by navigating the many federal, state, and local laws protecting employees in the workforce. She counsels management on avoiding and defending against employment claims before administrative agencies and local, state, and federal courts in Maryland and the District of Columbia. To learn more about DC's minimum work week, contact Julie at (301)961-6099 or jareddig@lerchearly.com. Law clerk Jody Stafford contributed to this article.

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