Press Release: DC Paid Family Leave Program Launches

Today, the D.C. Council’s Committee on Labor and Workforce Development unanimously approved recommendations for the fiscal year (FY) 2021 budget that prioritize investing in high-demand industry training in healthcare, IT, and infrastructure; modernizing DC’s unemployment insurance system; creating employment opportunities for DC youth during the school year; and making sure a level playing field is enforced so DC workers get paid fairly.

WASHINGTON, DC, July 1, 2020 – DC’s Paid Family Leave program fully launched July 1, 2020, allowing eligible workers the opportunity to take time off from work to care for loved ones or themselves during the most critical times in their life without sacrificing a paycheck and financial stability. The program will offer employees of DC businesses up to eight weeks of paid parental leave, six weeks of paid leave to care for sick family members, and two weeks of paid leave for personal medical reasons. DC’s Paid Family Leave program will be the sixth of its kind in the nation.

“After five years of working with advocates, businesses, the Department of Employment Services, and my colleagues to put it in place, I am thrilled that DC workers can finally benefit from paid family leave,” said At-Large Councilmember Elissa Silverman, who chairs the DC Council’s Committee on Labor and Workforce Development and co-wrote the initial legislation in 2015 with Councilmember David Grosso (I-At-Large). “Paid leave ensures that District workers won’t have to choose between supporting their family members or bringing home a paycheck. For our lower-wage workers, for those managing a job and elder care, for businesses who want to treat their workers with dignity, this is a huge step toward making our city more equitable and just.”

The benefits offered through the District’s Paid Family Leave program include wage replacement of up to $1,000 a week. Studies have shown that employers also benefit from paid leave through higher employee retention and a leveling of the playing field on recruitment between small and larger employers; many smaller businesses generally cannot afford to offer paid leave without a public social insurance option.

Apply and find more information about Paid Family Leave at dcpaidfamilyleave.dc.gov. Those with specific questions can call 202.899.3700 or email does.opfl@dc.gov.

The program is funded through an employer payroll tax, which began July 1, 2019. Last Friday, June 24, DC Chief Financial Officer Jeffrey DeWitt announced that $303 million in tax revenue has been collected over the last year, giving the program a healthy reserve and the funds necessary to start on time.

“I want to thank Director Unique Morris-Hughes of the Department of Employment Services for her commitment to getting this program up and running. She and her Paid Family Leave office hit the key milestones on time and without delay, which is incredible given the public health emergency we are in,” Silverman said. “This is immensely important for moving us toward a more equitable, just DC.”

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