Paid Family Leave
The eleventh-hour “employer mandate” scheme offered as an alternative to the “Universal Paid Leave Act of 2016 (UPLA)” is risky and volatile for District businesses and workers. It is difficult to enforce, would shift costs from large businesses to small businesses and taxpayers, and would create incentives to discriminate against job applicants who are viewed as more likely to take paid leave.
Policy experts have testified that the employer mandate model is problematic. That is why the three states with paid leave programs—California, Rhode Island, and New Jersey—which serve tens of millions of residents and millions of businesses, have a public insurance model administered by the government. New York State, which is implementing paid leave now, also has a public insurance model.
The below facts can be downloaded here.
At-Large D.C. Councilmember Elissa Silverman today released the following statement after Ward 2 Councilmember Jack Evans and Ward 3 Councilmember Mary Cheh introduced an amendment that would establish an employer mandate:
“The eleventh-hour employer mandate scheme presented this morning would make providing paid family leave financially impossible for all but the District’s largest businesses. It is a risky and volatile proposal, which has not been vetted in public debate.
It would get rid of the public insurance fund—a model currently used by three states providing paid leave to tens of millions of U.S. residents. It would also give most District businesses a small, unfunded employee tax credit that would not come close to financing parental, family, or personal medical leaves. While supporters of this amendment may claim that there will be no bureaucracy, businesses will still have to apply for “hardship petitions” that will be decided on a case-by-case basis, with details to be worked out in the future by the Mayor; and the city will have to ensure that businesses are complying with the program. In summary, it is uncertain how this proposal would work or be paid for.
The "Universal Paid Leave Amendment Act of 2016" that the Council voted to pass on December 6 has been reviewed, discussed, and debated for over fifteen months. A complete economic impact analysis has been conducted. This is not true for the employer mandate proposal. There is no economic impact analysis. And as of this morning, there has been no bill presented and no fiscal impact statement issued. I urge my colleagues to remain strong in support of a true paid leave program for the District’s workers.”
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.
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.
At-Large D.C. Councilmember Elissa Silverman released the statement below in response to an amendment proposed today by Ward 8 Councilmember LaRuby May and Mayor Muriel Bowser. The amendment comes one day before a historic vote to pass a comprehensive paid leave program in the District.
“I look forward to passing a true paid family and medical leave program for the District tomorrow. The amendment proposed by Ward 8 Councilmember LaRuby May, which I understand was drafted over the last couple of days with the support of Mayor Bowser, IS NOT a paid family and medical leave program and is not a viable alternative.
The Office of the Budget Director of the Council of the District of Columbia released an Economic and Policy Impact Statement on the “Universal Paid Leave Amendment Act of 2016” that offers the Council an evidence-based resource for weighing a piece of legislation’s policy implications and economic costs and benefits. It is divided into four sections:
- A review of paid leave programs’ impacts on labor markets, the business climate, and health, based on empirical evidence from more than 170 peer-reviewed studies.
- A detailed benchmarking analysis of paid leave programs in other states.
- An assessment of District-based employees’ current access to paid and unpaid leave.
- An economic analysis of the legislation’s projected impact on the DC economy using REMI, a widely used economic forecasting model.
Paid leave will increase women’s participation in the labor force and reduce the gender wage gap.
- Currently, women in the District are 9% less likely than men to be in the workforce and women who do work are paid on average $8,474 less per year than their male counterparts.
- 11 weeks of guaranteed paid parental leave is estimated to boost women’s participation in the workforce by about 7%-8%. This will be good for the economy and reduce their reliance on public benefits, both during and after the leave.
- Women’s access to paid leave in California was linked to a 7 percent higher hourly wage after childbirth.
On Tuesday, December 6th, the DC Council will consider and vote on legislation to create a paid family and parental leave program for District residents and workers. The bill would establish an insurance fund that would pay benefits for qualifying events including the birth or adoption of a child and the need to care for a seriously ill family member.
The United States is the only industrialized country without some type of paid leave, though California, Rhode Island, New Jersey, and New York have state programs. The District government, as well as some private employers, offer paid leave, but the vast majority of District employers do not. The initial bill was introduced in October of 2015. Since then, the Council has held three public hearings, released a discussion draft, and received input from the business community, members of the public, and paid leave advocates. Below is a breakdown of the updated proposal.
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?
At-Large D.C. Councilmember Elissa Silverman released the following statement in preparation for next week’s vote by the D.C. Council on Paid Family Leave:
“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.”