FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Office of Councilmember Elissa Silverman
Contact: David Coonerty-Marin
District government employees will get more paid family and medical leave thanks to a bill passed today in the DC Council. The legislation puts benefits in line with the District’s highly successful and expanding private sector program and with new federal government paid family leave benefits. Councilmember Elissa Silverman (I), chair of the Council’s Labor and Workforce Development Committee, and Councilmember Christina Henderson (I), introduced the bill, which was co-introduced by the entire Council.
“Expanding paid family leave benefits makes the DC government more competitive as an employer and better able to attract qualified candidates to work hard for our residents and businesses,” Silverman said. “We have 37,000 city employees. If we’re going to compete for talent with the federal government and the private sector, we have to offer competitive benefits to our workers.”
The District Government Paid Leave Enhancement Amendment Act increases benefits from eight to 12 weeks for family caregiving and parental leave and adds two new types of paid leave: personal medical leave, up to 12 weeks, and prenatal leave, up to two weeks. Funding approved earlier this year will cover up to two weeks of medical leave; the Council will need to fully fund the bill in future budgets to reach the full 12 weeks called for in the legislation.
The bill also creates a new leave bank to allow workers without enough paid leave for their medical needs to get additional paid time off, beyond the two weeks that will be funded initially.
“Workers should be able to take care of a parent or spouse, care for and bond with a new baby, or take care of their own medical needs, without having to risk financial devastation,” Henderson said. “Taking care of workers is the right thing to do and good for the District.”
Once passed and fully funded, the duration of available leave for District government workers will match the District’s highly successful private-sector paid leave program, which saw a significant expansion on Oct. 1 of this year. That occurred after Silverman had the city’s chief financial officer reexamine the private-sector program’s finances earlier this year: as a result, the business tax was cut by more than 50 percent on July 1, and on Oct. 1, all three categories of paid leave – parental, family, and medical – increased to 12 weeks.
“This is why it’s so important to follow these bills up with thorough oversight and persistence,” Silverman said. “Stopping at the initial passage wasn’t enough – we’re now expanding real benefits for workers in the public and private sectors. It’s good for workers, good for DC businesses, and it’s good for the city.”