Employee handbook

Payroll, benefits, and other HR policies and procedures



DEFP disburses compensation on the 15th and last day of the month. When payday falls on a weekend or holiday, compensation will be deposited on the immediately prior business day.

Gusto is our payroll company—all employees must register for online access: https://app.gusto.com/login. Once logged in, you can view and download your paystubs, update your address and other personal information, manage your benefits, submit time-off requests, view and download tax information, and more.

Access additional employee resources to ensure success in your role in DEFP’s Notion. If you have any questions or would like more information, email hr@defp.org.


Medical, dental, and vision benefits

All DEFP employees are eligible for healthcare benefits. Coverage includes spouses and all dependents, and DEFP pays 100 percent of the base plan’s premium—other options are available, and the employee is responsible for any marginal costs. Those who waive medical insurance, for whatever reason, will receive a $500 per month cash benefit in lieu of coverage.

Coverage begins on your first day of employment, and you can modify your selections during our annual open enrollment period or other qualified life events (e.g., marital status change or the birth of a child). Should you have questions about coverage, please refer to the benefits section in Gusto.

Retirement 401(k)

DEFP provides a 401(k) plan for all full-time staff and contributes 5 percent of compensation per pay period toward each employee’s retirement. Employees can make additional (elective) contributions, which can be adjusted at any time, into a pre-tax 401(k) or a Roth 401(k).

Life insurance

All employees receive a $50,000 life insurance policy through DEFP’s provider. This policy provides financial protection for your family if something were to ever happen to you. Benefits can be used toward income replacement, a mortgage, tuition, outstanding debt, and more. Coverage begins the 1st of the month following your first day of employment.

Hybrid/remote work

DEFP has a hybrid work environment with some employees fully remote. Any remote work must be approved by your supervisor, and you must notify them if you plan to work from a location other than your home city. Approval will be given based on the needs of the specific department and employee situation. Those who work at DEFP’s Washington, DC, headquarters must adhere to all federal, district, and building guidelines. DEFP may eventually return to full-time office work but may retain an option for hybrid work, as determined by your supervisor.

Time off policies

Flexible PTO

DEFP encourages all employees to enjoy a healthy, fulfilling work-life balance. Therefore, we offer flexible PTO (paid time off). The requirements are that (1) you submit your time-off requests via Gusto at least 10 business days in advance of your intended leave dates and (2) your absence does not adversely affect your work or the work of your teammates. Requests should include any relevant details, like your plans to avoid work disruptions; anticipated availability, if any; where you can be reached in the event of a work-related emergency; etc.

Sick leave

DEFP offers all employees flexible sick leave for health issues and emergencies.

Bereavement leave

DEFP offers all employees up to 5 days of bereavement leave in the event of the death of a family member or close friend.

Holidays observed

DEFP observes the following holidays: New Year’s Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving and the Friday after, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Eve.

Conduct and behavior

General conduct guidelines

Employees are expected to always exercise common sense and courtesy for the benefit of co-workers and DEFP. Professionalism is expected, as is respect for the safety and security of people and property. Failure to meet these expectations may be grounds for discipline, up to and including termination.

Sexual and other unlawful harassment

DEFP is committed to providing a work environment free of harassment in any form, including inappropriate and disrespectful behavior, intimidation, and other unwelcome conduct directed at an individual because of their inclusion in a protected class. Applicable federal and state law defines harassment as unwelcome behavior based on someone’s inclusion in a protected class. Sometimes language or actions that were not expected to be offensive or unwelcome are, so employees should err on the side of being more sensitive to the feelings of their co-workers rather than less.

Sexual harassment on the job is unlawful whether it involves co-worker harassment, harassment by a manager, or harassment by persons doing business with or for DEFP.


Any form of retaliation against someone who has expressed concern about any form of harassment, refused to partake in harassing behavior, made a harassment complaint, or cooperated in a harassment investigation, is strictly prohibited. A complaint made in good faith will under no circumstances be grounds for disciplinary action. Individuals who make complaints that they know to be false may be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including termination.


All managers and supervisors are responsible for: (1) implementing DEFP’s harassment policy; (2) ensuring all employees they supervise have knowledge of, and understand, DEFP policy; (3) reporting any complaints of misconduct to the designated DEFP representative at hr@defp.org and the president of the organization at edward.king@defp.org so they may be investigated and resolved; (4) taking and/or assisting in prompt and appropriate corrective action when necessary to ensure compliance with the policy; and (5) conducting themselves in a manner consistent with the policy.

Addressing issues informally

Employees who witness offensive behavior in the workplace—whether directed at them or another employee—are encouraged, though not required, to immediately address it with the employee whose behavior they found offensive. An employee who is informed their behavior is or was offensive should stop immediately and refrain from that behavior in the future, regardless of whether they agree that the behavior could have been offensive.

Abusive conduct

Abusive conduct means malicious conduct in the workplace that a reasonable person would find hostile or offensive and unrelated to an employer’s legitimate business interests. Abusive conduct may include repeated infliction of verbal abuse, such as the use of derogatory remarks, insults, and epithets; verbal or physical conduct that a reasonable person would find threatening, intimidating, or humiliating; or the sabotage or undermining of a person’s work performance. A single act will generally not constitute abusive conduct, unless especially severe.

DEFP considers abusive conduct in the workplace unacceptable and will not tolerate it. Employees should report abusive conduct to their supervisor of the president of the organization. Managers are responsible for ensuring that employees are not subjected to abusive conduct. All reports will be treated seriously and investigated when appropriate. Employees who are found to have engaged in abusive conduct will be subject to discipline, up to and potentially including termination. Retaliation against an employee who reports abusive conduct or verifies that it took place is strictly prohibited.

Complaint procedure

Complaints should be submitted orally or in writing to hr@defp.org, a supervisor or manager, or the president within three working days of the incident—or as soon as possible to assist in a more accurate investigation—but complaints will be taken seriously regardless of when they are reported.

Generally, a meeting will be held within three business days of the employee’s request, depending upon scheduling availability. Attempts will be made to resolve the issue during the meeting, but regardless of whether there is an immediate resolution, the supervisor or manager will give the employee a written summary of the meeting within three business days. Resolution may take longer if further investigation of the complaint is required.

If the employee is not satisfied with the resolution, they may request a review of the complaint and resolution and may call an additional meeting to explore the problem. If warranted, additional fact-finding will be undertaken. A final decision will be rendered within a reasonable amount of time after receiving the request.

Corrective action

A high level of job performance and professionalism is expected from each employee. If an employee’s job performance does not meet the standards established for the position, they violate DEFP policies or procedures, or their behavior is otherwise unacceptable, corrective action may ensue. Corrective action may include—but is not limited to—coaching, oral or written warnings, performance improvement plans, paid or unpaid suspension, demotion, and termination. The type and order of actions taken will be at management’s sole discretion, and DEFP is not required to take any disciplinary action before making an adverse employment decision, including termination.

Workplace relationships

DEFP strongly believes a work environment where employees maintain clear boundaries between personal and business interactions is necessary for effective business operations. Although this policy does not prevent the development of friendships or romantic relationships between co-workers, it does establish boundaries as to how relationships are conducted during working hours and within the working environment. We always expect professionalism.

Individuals in supervisory or managerial roles and those with authority over others’ terms and conditions of employment are subject to more stringent requirements under this policy due to their status as role models, their access to sensitive information, and their ability to affect the employment of individuals in subordinate positions.

If you are overseeing a department, you may not engage in a romantic relationship with any of your direct reports or any interns. Staff members are not permitted to engage in romantic or sexual relationships with any of the interns (regardless of department) during their internship period. In the event a pre-existing romantic relationship between two parties exists and one party is seeking a position in which they shall be superior to their romantic partner within the business of DEFP, the relationship must be disclosed to the president of the organization.

Employees are strictly prohibited from engaging in physical contact that would in any way be deemed inappropriate in the workplace by a reasonable person while anywhere on DEFP premises or DEFP events and activities, whether during working hours or not. This policy also extends to official DEFP events or other situations in which employees are to be professionally representing the organization.