District of Columbia Wage Payment Laws

Frequency of Wage Payments

Employers are required to pay employees all wages due at least twice during each calendar month, except:

  • an employer may pay bona fide administrative, executive, and professional employees at least once per month
  • an employer, by contract or custom, has historically paid wages less frequently but not less frequently than once per month.

Employers must pay employees on regular paydays designated in advance by the employer. An employer must pay wages not more than 10 days after the end of a pay period, except where a different period is specified in a collective agreement between an employer and a bona fide labor organization. D.C. Code 32-1302

An employer’s statutory or regulatory wage payment obligations cannot be waived in any way by a private agreement between the employer and employee. D.C. Code 32-1305

Manner of Wage Payments

Employers may pay wages by:

  • cash, or
  • check payable on demand for full face value.

D.C. Code 32-1302; D.C. Code 32-1008

Direct Deposit

The District of Columbia has no laws discussing whether a private-sector employer may pay wages by way of direct deposit. Thus, it is uncertain whether an employer may require an employee to receive wages via direct deposit. The District of Columbia has authorized the payment of wages by way of direct deposit to employees of the District of Columbia. D.C. Code 1-611.20

Payment upon Separation from Employment

Unless otherwise specified in a collective agreement between an employer and a bona fide union representing his employees:

Employees who are fired, discharged, terminated, or laid off

When an employer discharges or lays off an employee, an employer must pay the employee all wages due no later than the first workday after the discharge or lay off. If the employee that is discharged or laid off is responsible for any of the employer’s monies, the employer is allowed four (4) days from the date of the discharge or layoff to verify the accuracy of the monies for which the employee was responsible before paying all wages due.

Employees who quit or resign

When an employee voluntarily quits or resigns, an employer must pay the employee all wages due on the next regular payday or within seven (7) days from the date of quitting or resigning, whichever is earlier.

Employees who are suspended due to a labor dispute (strike or lock out)

When an employee is suspended due to a labor dispute, an employer must pay the employee all wages due no later than the next regular payday.

Penalty for failing to timely pay an employee upon separation from employment

An employer that fails to timely pay an employee upon separation from employment will be liable to pay to the employee a penalty equal to the lesser of (a) 10% of the unpaid wages for each workday the wages due remain unpaid, or (b) an amount equal to the unpaid wages owed. If an employer successfully files for bankruptcy, the accrual of any penalty owed to the employee will stop as of the date the petition for bankruptcy is filed.

D.C. Code 32-1303

Wages in Dispute

If there is a bona fide dispute between the employer and the employee regarding wages owed the employee, the employer must give the employee written notice of the wages the employer concedes to be due and must pay that amount, without condition, within the time required, depending on whether the employee was discharged or voluntarily quit. The employer may retain the disputed amount until the matter is resolved. D.C. Code 32-1304

Deductions from Wages

An employer may not charge or deduct from an employee’s wages breakages, walkouts, mistakes on customer checks or similar charges, or fines, assessments, or charges if the payment of such reduces the employee’s wage rate below the minimum wage rate. DC Reg 7-915

Uniforms, Tools, and Other Equipment Necessary for Employment

An employer is required to pay for the purchase, maintenance, and cleaning of any uniforms or protective clothing the employee is required to wear to perform his/her job. In lieu of purchasing and maintaining required uniforms, an employer may pay employees 15 cents ($0.15) per hour in addition to their regular hourly rate not to exceed six dollars ($6.00) per week. D.C. Reg. 7-908.1

If an employer purchases required uniforms but require the employee to maintain and clean them, the employer must pay employees 10 cents ($0.10) per hour in addition to their regular hourly rate. D.C. Reg. 7-908.2

If an employer requires employees to purchase required uniforms but the employer maintains and cleans them, the employer must pay the employee 8 cents ($0.08) per hour in addition to their regular hourly rate. D.C. Reg. 7-908.3

An employer must pay the cost of purchasing and maintaining any tools needed by the employee to perform his/her job. DC Reg 7-910

Pre-hire Medical, Physical, or Drug Tests

The District of Columbia does not have any laws prohibiting an employer from requiring an applicant from paying for pre-hire medical, physical, or drug tests.

Notice of Wage Reduction

The District of Columbia does not have any laws that require an employer to inform an employee of a wage reduction.

Statement of Wages (Pay Stub)

An employer must provide to each employee at the time wages are paid an itemized statement (pay stub) showing:

  • the date of the wage payment,
  • gross wages paid (showing separately the earnings for overtime and non-overtime hours worked),
  • an itemized list of allowances and deductions,
  • net wages paid and hours worked during the pay period,
  • if paid commissions, the amount of commissions and non-commissions earned listed separately,
  • employee’s tip-declaration form for the pay period, delineating cash tips and credit-card tips, and
  • any other information as the Mayor may prescribe by regulation.

D.C. Code 32-1008(b); D.C. Reg. 7-911.2

Record Keeping Requirements

An employer must maintain, for at least three (3) years, a record for each employee which indicates:

  • the employee’s
    • first and last names and middle initial, if any;
    • social security number;
    • occupation or job title;
    • address, including ZIP Code;
    • date of birth;
    • regular hourly rate of pay,
  • the total number of hours worked each work day and each workweek by the employee;
  • the time of day and day of week on which employee’s workweek begins;
  • the basis on which the employee’s wages are paid;
  • a daily record of:
    • the time of day the employee began and stopped working, and
    • the time of day the employee began and ended any meal break if the employee worked a split shift;
  • the employee’s total daily or weekly straight-time earnings and excess overtime earnings for the workweek, or total earnings for non-overtime hours worked during the workweek and total earnings for overtime hours worked during the workweek;
  • the total gross and net wages paid to the employee each pay period and deductions from and/or additions to wages;
  • the date wages were paid to the employee and the pay period covered by the payment.
  • if the employee is a tipped employee, documentation showing the employee received at least minimum wage when their tips are combined with their regular wage rate;
  • if the employee is paid by commission:
    • a notation on the payroll record to readily identify that the employee receives or received wages based on commission;
    • an indication for each workweek during which the employee’s regular rate of pay exceeded one and one-half (1 1/2) times the applicable minimum hourly rate;
    • a copy of any agreement or a written summary of the terms under which the employee and employer have formally agreed to or understood the commission basis of compensation. The agreement or written summary must show the applicable representative period, the date it was entered into, and the period in which it remains in effect; and
    • Total compensation paid each pay period showing separately the amount of commission and non-commission earnings.

D.C. Code 32-1008(a)(1); DC Reg 7-911.1

An employer who takes an tip or gratuity allowance must maintain records showing that the tip allowance taken is equal to the tips received by employees. Reg. 7-903.1

Under District of Columbia’s minimum wage requirements, employers that pay employees by tip credit, except for a hotel employer, must use a third-party payroll business to prepare the payroll for the employer. D.C. Code 32-1008

Notice Requirements

The District of Columbia requires an employer to provide employees at the time they are hired a written notice of their employment containing the following information:

  • the employer’s name and any DBAs (“Doing Business As”) used by the employer
  • the employer’s main office or principal place of business, and a mailing address if difference
  • the employer’s telephone number
  • the employee’s rate of pay and the basis of that rate, including:
    • whether the employee is paid:
      • an hourly rate
      • a rate by hour, shift, day, or week
      • a salary
      • a piece rate
      • a commission
    • any allowances the employer is claiming as part of the employee’s minimum wage, including:
      • tips
      • meals
      • lodging
    • the overtime rate of pay or if the employee is classified as exempt from minimum wage
    • the living wage or exemptions from the living wage
    • applicable prevailing wages
  • the regular payday as designated by the employer

D.C. Code 32-1008

The notice must be provide in English and in the employee’s primary language if other than English. The District of Columbia Department of Employment Services has created a form in English and Spanish that employers may use to comply with their notice requirement obligations. Notice of Hire to Employees Form – English (Notice of Hire to Employees Form – Spanish

Temporary staffing agencies

The District of Columbia has modified new hire notice requirements for temporary staffing agencies. Temporary staffing agencies are required to provide the same notice to their new employees as described above for other employees. However, if the temporary agency has not determined what the specific rate of pay is going to be for the new employee at the time of hire, they must include a range of potential wages the employee is likely to earn.

The range of potential wages must be a good faith estimate of what the employee will earn based on the employee’s qualifications and cannot be overly broad. Additionally, if the temporary staffing agency is unable to identify a set payday at the time a new employee is hired, they may inform the employee that the payday may vary depending on the usual practice at the assignment.

When a temporary staffing firm assigns an employee to a job for another organization, the temporary staffing agency must notify the employee in writing of the following:

  • the specific payday for the assignment
  • the rate of pay for the assignment
  • the benefits, if provided
  • the overtime rate or that the employee is exempt for overtime and the basis for the exemption
  • the name of the client employer
  • the location of the client employer
  • the name of the temporary staffing firm
  • the location of the temporary staffing firm
  • the anticipated length of the assignment
  • whether training or safety equipment is required and who is obligated to provide and pay for the equipment
  • the entity responsible for workers’ compensation
  • information about how to contact the designated enforcement agency for concerns about safety, wage and hour, and discrimination

D.C. Code 32-1008.1

The notice must be provided in English and in the employee’s primary language if other than English. The District of Columbia Department of Employment Services has created a form that temporary staffing firms may use to comply with their new employee notice requirements. Notice of Hire to Employees Form for Temporary Staffing Firms – English; Notice of Hire to Employees Form for Temporary Staffing Firms – Spanish

Other notice requirements

An employer must notify employees of changes to policies that permit the accrual of leave, such as vacation leave, before the policies have any legally binding effect on the employment relationship. NRA v. Ailes, 428 A.2d 816 (D.C. App. 1981).

An employer who employs employees who are paid tipped wages must advise them of the laws and regulations regarding tipped wages. D.C. Reg. 7-903.1