Councilmember Silverman Praises Passage of Precedent-Setting D.C. Paid Family Leave Program
Today, Councilmember Elissa Silverman (I, At-Large) voted with an overwhelming majority of her colleagues on the D.C. Council to pass the Universal Paid Leave Amendment Act of 2016, a historic bill making the District a national leader in championing working families by offering paid family and medical leave. The bill passed by a vote of 11 to 2.
“This is a historic day for the health and welfare of everyone in our city—District families, workers, and businesses,” said Silverman following the Council’s first legislative vote. “Through this legislation the District will take a significant step towards ensuring that our workers have equal access to paid family and medical leave—a benefit that until now was mainly enjoyed by the city’s highest earners.”
Introduced in October 2015 and co-written with Councilmember David Grosso (I, At-Large), the bill establishes a citywide fund to pay earned benefits for family or medical leave. During the bill’s discussion at the Committee of the Whole, Councilmember Silverman offered an amendment, which passed unanimously, that would give DC workers up to eight weeks for parental leave, six weeks for family leave, and two weeks for personal medical leave.
“This bill has undergone an extraordinary public process,” said Silverman. “I want to thank Chairman Phil Mendelson for the deliberative and thoughtful approach that this bill has gone through. I also want to thank Councilmember Grosso for all of the hard work that he and his staff have put into this bill, and for their efforts to champion this effort.”
Over 14 months, the D.C. Council heard testimony at three public hearings to incorporate concerns and recommendations from advocates, residents, large and small businesses, national policy experts and others. Passage of today’s legislation is also the culmination of numerous discussions, three comprehensively revised drafts, and the first-ever Economic and Policy Impact Statement from the D.C. Council’s Office of the Budget Director.
Under the amended bill, the District will offer up to eight weeks of paid leave annually to new parents for a birth or adoption. It will provide six weeks for full and part-time District workers to care for an ill loved one, and two weeks of paid leave for District workers in need of personal medical leave. Self-employed individuals may opt into the program; however, federal employees and District residents who work for employers outside of D.C. are not covered. District government employees would remain under the D.C. government program.
With the bill’s wage replacement structure, District workers for private employers who make up to one-and-a-half-times the minimum wage, or $46,800 a year, will be paid 90 percent of typical wages during a leave. If a worker earns between $46,800 and $61,700 a year, the benefit during a leave will be between 84 percent and 90 percent of typical wages. Workers earning more than $61,700 a year will receive the maximum benefit of $1,000 per week.
“More than 80 percent of District residents support paid family leave,” said Silverman. “Today’s vote is just the beginning. As we work to implement this bill and move the program forward, I hope that Mayor Muriel Bowser and all of my colleagues will be willing to work together to ensure that our workers have the best paid family and medical leave program in the country.”
The second legislative vote on the bill will take place on December 20. Additional information about today’s passage of a District paid family leave program can be found at elissasilverman.com/paid_family_leave.