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Universal Paid Leave Act Update

Mon, Dec 5, 2016

District Of Columbia

The DC Council is expected to vote tomorrow, Tuesday, December 6 on the controversial Universal Paid Leave Act, with a final vote scheduled on December 20. The latest proposal, which was released this week, would provide up to 11 weeks off for new parents and up to 8 weeks off for workers who need time to care for a family member. The original proposal provided up to 16 weeks paid leave. Details still need to be worked out and it is uncertain what D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser and her Administration will do, but Council support is enough to override a veto. Congress will then have a 30-day window to weigh in on the legislation, but it’s likely that the focus on Capitol Hill in January will be on repealing the Affordable Care Act and other issues.

Below is a summary of the bill released by DC Council Chair Mendelson on Monday: 

The proposed bill would require employers to provide 11 weeks of paid family leave for parents to bond with newborn or adopted children and eight weeks to care for an ailing parent or grandparent — among the most generous paid-leave laws in the nation.

  • The proposal is expected to draw support from a majority of the Council, which has been discussing paid leave for more than a year.
  • Under the plan, full-time and part-time employees would be able to draw from a government account to receive up to 90 percent of their pay. The benefit would be limited to $1,000 a week.
  • It would be funded by a 0.62 percent increase in employers-paid payroll taxes.
  • The proposal puts the cost directly onto employers and would be the first in the country to require businesses to fully fund employees’ family leave benefit.
  • Mendelson jettisoned a more costly part of the legislation that would have allowed paid personal leave for workers’ medical issues.
  • If the legislation is approved as expected, it will take more than three years before District workers could benefit. Mendelson has indicated that the D.C. government needs 18 months to develop the software to collect the payroll tax and administer the benefits. After that, employers will have to pay into the fund for 12 months to build a balance to draw from.
  • Mendelson said he would expect that workers could probably could begin taking paid leave for births in January 2020.