WASHINGTON — As D.C. Council members returned to work Tuesday from their summer recess, they were greeted by demonstrators outside the Wilson Building who chanted “paid leave,” urging lawmakers to pass a controversial family leave bill before the end of the year.
“It can’t come soon enough,” said Joanna Blotner, the campaign manager for a coalition that supports paid family leave in the District.
“It’s not fair. There are parents who are going back to work every single day after a new child is born.”
The council has been considering the Universal Paid Leave Act, which would require employers in D.C. to provide their workers with up to 16 weeks of paid time off to care for a new child. Paid leave would be given to employees who are dealing with a medical condition or helping a seriously ill loved one.
D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson has said the benefit would be funded through a 1 percent payroll tax. Earlier this year, he proposed scaling back the amount of leave to 12 weeks, but supporters are still hoping for 16.
“I think that businesses will find that when families have the financial security to actually go and shop in their local communities, that their businesses will actually do better,” Blotner said.
Local business leaders are not so sure. The D.C. Chamber of Commerce has said the bill “imposes financial constraints” on employers and “makes the District of Columbia less competitive and attractive for businesses.”