DC Paid Leave Benefits Expand Substantially

Council action led to July tax cut, Oct. 1 increase of parental, family & medical leave


D.C. private sector workers are now eligible for a lot more paid family and medical leave — up to 12 weeks as of Oct. 1 — to welcome a new child into their family or take care of themselves or a family member with a serious health condition.
The expansion is a result of action taken last year by Councilmember Elissa Silverman (I-At-Large), chair of the Council’s Labor Committee and the author of the Universal Paid Leave law, requiring D.C.’s Chief Financial Officer to reevaluate the paid leave program’s finances. As a result, the payroll tax for businesses was cut by more than half and workers can now receive 12 weeks of leave. 

“This is a big deal for workers and for employers, who can provide this increased benefit to their employees for less than half the cost,” Silverman said. “This keeps our workers and our economy healthy and competitive. It’s a win-win for the city.”  
Most private sector employees in the District are eligible for paid leave under the program, which was implemented on time and under budget in July 2020. Workers can receive up to 90 percent of their income, with a maximum compensation of   $1,000 per week, though employers have the option to add more on their own. In the two years the program has existed, more than 28,000 DC workers have applied for leave: 60 percent for parental leave, 30 percent for medical leave, and 7 percent for family leave.
In addition to the family, parental, and medical leave, workers can also receive up to two weeks of paid leave for prenatal care.
Silverman and the Labor Committee have championed paid family leave for years and there are expansions coming for workers in the public sector as well. Last week, the Council unanimously voted to approve legislation spearheaded by Silverman and Councilmember Christina Henderson (I-At-Large), and co-introduced by the entire Council, that will create a medical leave for DC government’s 37,000 workers with a plan to match the private sector program benefits. A final vote on that bill is expected Tuesday, Oct. 4.
“This is yet another reminder of the importance of following through on legislation,” Silverman said. “Passing the bill is often just the first step. In this case, we were able to significantly expand benefits for private sector workers and cut taxes for business at the same time by doing rigorous oversight and keeping a close eye on its costs.”