Paid Family Leave Passes Overwhelmingly on First Vote! Second Vote Dec. 20!
We did it!
In case you missed the front-page story in yesterday’s Washington Post, the great reporting on WAMU, and coverage elsewhere: On Tuesday, by a remarkable 11-to-2 vote, the D.C. Council gave preliminary approval to the Universal Paid Leave Amendment Act of 2016. Your efforts made the difference! This bill makes the District a national leader—again!—in championing working families by creating an insurance-based family and medical leave program that will be accessible to both full and part-time workers who work for private businesses and nonprofits in the District.
This bill will benefit not only our working families but also our small and large businesses. A comprehensive Economic and Policy Impact Statement from the D.C. Council’s Office of the Budget Director showed that paid family leave in states, including California, New Jersey and Rhode Island, had numerous positive impacts that save businesses money, such as increased employee productivity and morale and decreased worker turnover. Further, paid leave has been linked to lower infant mortality rates and other health benefits.
This has been an extraordinary, 14-month-long public discussion. You may remember that the initial bill, which was co-authored by my office and the office of At-Large Councilmember David Grosso, was introduced in October 2015. Over this time, 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.
But every piece of legislation requires two Council votes, so we can’t celebrate too much! I need you to be steadfast and unwavering in your support and advocacy so we can keep our 11-to-2 majority, which I hope might become a 13-to-0 unanimous vote!
What’s in the passed bill?
During Tuesday’s discussion on the bill at the Committee of the Whole, I offered an amendment, which passed unanimously, that would give D.C. workers up to eight weeks for parental leave, six weeks for family leave and two weeks for personal medical leave.
Here’s what is included under the amended bill:
- Who’s eligible: New parents will be eligible to receive up to eight weeks of paid leave annually for a new birth or adoption, and workers will be eligible to receive up to six weeks of paid leave annually to care for an ill loved one. District workers in need of personal medical leave will be eligible for two weeks of paid leave.
- Who’s covered: Full and part-time workers for District private businesses and nonprofits 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 will 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 amendment I offered to the bill was certified by the District’s Chief Financial Officer as a money-saver over the financial period. The final program is funded by an employer-based payroll tax, which will remain at 0.62 percent. This will affect roughly 8,000 businesses in the District.
How can you help now?
Paid leave is soon to be a reality thanks to the tremendous advocacy efforts of organizations, like the D.C. Paid Family Leave Coalition and D.C. for Democracy, and individuals in every ward of the city. But we still have one more vote on December 20. Please help me thank my colleagues for their votes on Tuesday and encourage them to stay committed to helping the District’s working families.
The other ten “yes” votes came from Ward 1 Councilmember Brianne Nadeau, Ward 3 Councilmember Mary Cheh, Ward 4 Councilmember Brandon Todd, Ward 5 Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie, Ward 6 Councilmember Charles Allen, Ward 8 Councilmember LaRuby May, At-Large Councilmember Robert White, At-Large Councilmember David Grosso, At-Large Councilmember Anita Bonds, and Chairman Phil Mendelson.
More than 80 percent of District residents support paid family leave, and Tuesday’s vote is just the beginning. As we work to implement this bill and move the program forward, I hope that Mayor Bowser and all of my colleagues will work together to ensure that our workers have the best paid family and medical leave program in the country.
Thanks for your continued support. Let’s get this done!