It’s Go Time: Family Leave Bill First Vote Dec. 6!

Dear Resident,

Big news! Later today, Chairman Mendelson will release a revised version of the paid family leave bill that my colleagues and I will vote on next Tuesday. It’s been more than a year since this bill was first introduced last October by myself and Councilmember David Grosso (I-At-Large), along with five of our colleagues. Over these 14 months, I’ve spent time meeting with a variety of residents, businesses large and small, national policy experts and others—as well as listening to testimony over the course of three hearings—to incorporate concerns and recommendations to develop a strong, precedent-setting bill. I look forward to casting my “yes” vote for a bill that is good for our families and good for our economy. I want to thank Chairman Mendelson, Councilmember Grosso, my colleagues and all those who have contributed to this robust discussion.

What’s in this revised bill?

  • Who’s eligible: New parents who work for District businesses would be eligible to receive up to eleven weeks of paid leave annually for a new birth or adoption, and workers for District businesses would be eligible to receive up to eight weeks of paid leave annually to care for an ill loved one. Personal medical leave is excluded from the Chairman’s bill.
  • Who’s covered: Full and part-time workers in the District would be covered, and self-employed residents can choose whether to participate. The program would not cover Federal employees or District residents who work for employers outside of D.C. District government employees would remain under the D.C. government program.
  • Benefits: Workers 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% and 90% of typical wages. Workers earning more than $61,700 a year will receive the maximum benefit of $1,000 per week.
  • Costs: The program is funded by an employer-based payroll tax, which has been set at 0.62 percent. This means that if a business’s annual payroll is $1,000,000, it will pay $6,200 a year to cover all of its employees with access to paid family leave. This will affect roughly 8,000 businesses in the District.

Yesterday when details of the Chairman’s bill were released to the press, I released the following statement in response:

“I am excited to cast my vote in favor of paid family leave next week. I want to thank Chairman Mendelson for the deliberative and thoughtful process the bill has gone through, including more than a year of consideration incorporating input from residents, from businesses large and small, and from national experts. This bill will be a benefit to our entire city. Stressful life events good or bad—like welcoming a new child or handling a grave illness in a worker’s family—should not turn into a double whammy of financial hardship that can have devastating ripple effects.

The Chairman’s proposal gives needed help to parents and family members that will help their employers as well, but it does not include personal medical leave. Other states include this in their paid family leave programs. For example, the Chairman’s bill excludes help to the retail worker who told me in a hearing that she had to quit her job to make radiation and chemotherapy treatments. She should have the financial stability to make the best medical decision she can to take care of herself and her family. I look forward to working with the Chairman, my co-introducer, Councilmember David Grosso, and our colleagues to include personal medical leave in our family leave program.”

What happens now? The Council will take the first of two votes on the bill at next Tuesday’s (Dec. 6) legislative meeting. Pending passage, the second (and final) vote will happen on Dec. 20. The bill will then be transmitted to Mayor Bowser for her signature.

How can you help pass Paid Family Leave? Now is the moment to voice your support for paid leave to my colleagues and to Mayor Bowser. I’ve talked to many of my colleagues about paid leave, and I am excited by the support that has been expressed. Still, some of my colleagues need more encouragement from you. There is also criticism that this is an employer-based tax in which Maryland and Virginia residents who work in the District will benefit as well; unfortunately, given our lack of statehood and the Home Rule Charter enacted by Congress, this is the only plausible way to provide this benefit. We face a similar issue with other worker benefits such as the $15 minimum wage, which Mayor Bowser and the entire D.C. Council supported.

Your voice is critical to making paid family leave a reality in D.C.! This means you should:

  • Call or email your ward and at-large Council members to let them know you want them to vote in favor of the Universal Paid Leave Act at next Tuesday’s legislative meeting. If you’re not sure which ward you live in, check here.
  • RSVP to show up next Tuesday, Dec. 6, and express your support in person at the Wilson Building (1350 Pennsylvania Ave NW)
  • Stay updated on what’s happening with the bill in real time and tweet my colleagues

After more than a year, I’m thankful to see a Paid Family Leave bill finally come to a vote! I look forward to voting in favor, and with your help, I will continue urging my colleagues to do the same.

Thanks so much.