DC considers US’ most generous paid leave policy

The District began offering eight weeks of paid leave to government employees last year, D.C. has codified and extended protections afforded to workers after pregnancy, and the D.C. Family and Medical Leave Act guarantees up to 16 weeks of leave-but it is unpaid, and only mandated for employees who have worked for more than a year and have completed 1,000 hours at a company with 20 or more employees.


Grosso says the bill would allow workers in D.C. or D.C. residents who work outside the District to “access a government-run fund that would pay for up to 16 weeks of leave for a qualifying event”.

Employees who earn more than that would be eligible for $1,000 a week plus 50 per cent of their additional income, up to a maximum of $3,000 per week. “We now have a national platform and a great opportunity with this legislation to show how it can be done”.

“The United States is one of the few countries on Earth without national paid leave”. Business leaders warned that could be hurtful and put them at a competitive disadvantage regionally, but D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson (D) moved to streamline a review of the proposed law, keeping it before his committee and therefore one step from a council-wide vote.

California, New Jersey, and Rhode Island have implemented paid family leave, and a number of other states are exploring their options as well.

Stronger paid-leave policies have been a huge initiative for the Obama administration.

That’s to say nothing of benefits for families of dads who take leave; they wind up spending more time with their children long after the period of compensation ends.

Seven of the D.C. Council’s 13 members have co-sponsored Grosso’s bill. The plan would expand paid leave from being a benefit offered by high-paying employers to something all residents, regardless of job type and income, could rely on.

Nearly all D.C. employees would be eligible.

Silverman concedes that the cost of providing paid leave would fall largely on employers, but those same employers would benefit from having happier employees. Instead of trying to get legislation through Congress, the administration is offering grants to help create state-level paid family leave plans.

“There is a cost, but just like why we have a health insurance exchange, which then pools risk and lowers the cost for everyone, paid family leave takes the same approach”, she says. Like most other council sponsors of the bill, he does not have any children but said he and his mother had to stagger shifts years ago to care for a terminally ill grandmother.


Even though workers won’t pay the tax directly, they may do so indirectly.

Image AP