D.C. Considers Proposal for 16 Weeks of Paid Family Leave

The D.C. Council is considering requiring employers to offer as much as 16 weeks of paid family leave, but even some supporters of family leave, including Mayor Muriel Bowser, are trying to figure out how the proposal would cost businesses and the government.

At a lunch forum honoring women in the Washington area, Bowser told News4 on Thursday that she supports paid family leave programs, but she stopped short of embracing the new council proposal.

“They are awaiting a fiscal analysis to be done,” she said. “I think there are some very important questions to be answered. I think certainly everybody wants to support families, but we have some questions for the district government itself and our 33,000 employees.”

The 16 paid weeks -- the most in the nation among states and cities -- would help families care for newborns, aging relatives and family emergencies, activists say.

“I think it's critical because too often, particularly in families of more humble means, when something goes wrong, they just don't have the resources to care for a loved one or a child,” Latin American Youth Center President Lorie Kaplan said.

She acknowledged the costs of the program must be clarified for employers.

“No question it's going to help our workers in this city,” Kaplan said. “As a non-profit I have to figure out what that means in terms of the money part of this.”

Bower said she will work with council members to crunch the numbers.

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