D.C. Council Supermajority Approves Universal Paid Family Leave in Final Vote

Today, Councilmember Elissa Silverman (I-At Large) voted with a majority of her D.C. Council colleagues to approve, on a second and final reading, the Universal Paid Leave Amendment Act of 2016, which will create a family and personal medical leave program in the District of Columbia. The legislation passed by a vote of 9 to 4.

Under the final bill, the District will create a social insurance system that will provide up to eight weeks of annual paid leave to new parents for a birth or adoption, up to six weeks for District workers to care for a sick loved one, and up to two weeks for District workers in need of personal medical leave. Self-employed individuals may opt into the program. District government employees will remain under the D.C. government program; federal employees and District residents who work for employers outside of D.C. will not be covered by the bill.

“I am proud that the District engaged in a truly robust debate about how we can best help working families in our city,” said Silverman after the final vote. “Through this discussion, the Council put forth a comprehensive paid family and medical leave program that will help us tackle one of our biggest challenges—ensuring that our city is a more equitable and fair place to live.”

The program will be funded by an employer-based 0.62% payroll tax. Under the bill’s wage replacement structure, District workers who work for private employers and make up to one-and-a-half-times the minimum wage, or $46,800 a year when the minimum wage rises to $15, will be paid 90-percent of their wages during leave. If a worker earns between $46,800 and $61,700 in a year, the benefit during leave will be between 84-percent and 90-percent of their wages. Workers earning more than $61,700 a year will receive the maximum benefit of $1,000 per week.

“With this program, District workers who take critical family and medical leave will no longer face financial calamity as well,” Silverman said.

Other members who voted in favor of the bill are Councilmember Brianne Nadeau (D-Ward 1), Councilmember Mary Cheh (D-Ward 3), Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie (D-Ward 5), Councilmember Charles Allen (D-Ward 6), Councilmember Robert White (D-At Large), Councilmember David Grosso (I-At Large), Councilmember Anita Bonds (D-At Large), and Chairman Phil Mendelson (D-At Large).

Following today’s legislative vote, the bill will be transmitted to Mayor Bowser. Additional information about today’s passage of a District paid family and medical leave program can be found at elissasilverman.com/paid_family_leave.