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Displaced Workers Right to Reinstatement and Retention Amendment Act of 2020

January 7, 2021

On Tuesday, December 15th in DC, the Council held their final Legislative Meeting of this session. The Council unanimously passed Bill 23-965, the “Displaced Workers Right to Reinstatement and Retention Amendment Act of 2020”. We, along with Andrew Kline, have been advocating on the industry’s behalf for weeks, as this was a quick moving piece of legislation, and many of you weighed in and took immediate action to reach out to the Council to share your story and express concerns with the legislation. We know as an industry that you already prioritize your staff and go to great lengths to support them and to offer them positions and hours back as you are able to during this challenging time. Added government mandates on this process are counterproductive to the realtime challenges you are facing to keep doors open and provide jobs to all you can employ right now. While we were not able to get all of the changes we were hoping for, the bill that passed today is friendlier to the small business community than what was initially going to be required. The legislation goes into effect on February 1, 2021. This is what you will be required to do under this legislation: 

  • The law applies to businesses which had  50 or more employees as of March 1, 2020 who have reduced staff in any way. These businesses must offer positions first to those who were working at the business as of March 1, 2020. We worked with key members to increase the number from 35, however, we were hoping for a much higher number, as we know many restaurants have larger staff sizes, yet are still considered small businesses. 

  • The offer must be made to a former employee who filled the same or substantially similar position that requires the same skills as their previous position. 

  • The offer can be made through email, text or certified mail. If the offer is made through email or text, the former employee has 3 days to respond, and if the offer is made through certified mail the former employee has 7-days to respond. Initially it required 10-days and we were able to reduce the day count to 3 and 7, depending on how the offer is made. 

    • The employee must return to work no later than 7-days after the offer is made, unless the employer allows a later date. 

  • The legislation applies to the timeframe from  the start of the Public Health Emergency through June 30, 2023. We worked hard to reduce the sunset date from 2024 and the law will now sunset June 30, 2023. 

  • These requirements do not apply to a former employee who received severance or to a former employee that you could have terminated and provided demonstrative evidence of possible termination. 

  • Initially the legislation applied to all instances of change in controlling interest, but now businesses are exempt if there is demonstrative change in operations upon a change in control. The example Chairman Mendelson gave is if you sell your full service restaurant and the new owner is a quick serve model, you are exempt. If there is no change in operations, employees must be retained for 90 days from the change in control date

There are many requirements in this Bill that are concerning and burdensome, but as stated earlier, it was adjusted slightly to reflect less burdens in particular areas we could control. It was through the tireless efforts of Andrew Kline to ensure that any legal protections that needed to be considered for you as operators were addressed and included to make implementation less painful. For those of you who know Andrew, and operate in the District, make a note to send a special thank you note his way.