DC Council Initially Passes 8 Weeks Paid Family Leave

The D.C. Council agreed to reduce the amount of paid time off people could take for the birth or adoption of a child from 11 weeks to eight weeks, which would still be more time than in the other states that mandate paid leave, although New York state will begin offering eight weeks of leave in 2018.

The council gave preliminary approval to the paid family leave bill Tuesday, with the hallway outside the council chamber jammed with supporters and opponents. A second vote on Dec. 20 will give final approval to the measure.

The council meeting started two hours late in part because council members squabbled over the proposal at breakfast.

In addition to the eight weeks of paid leave -- down, now, from the original proposal of 16 weeks -- would also provide for six weeks paid leave for family care and two weeks for self care.

Unlike in other states, the District's benefit would be funded entirely by a tax on businesses.

"It will increase worker productivity, increase worker morale," said Councilmember Elissa Silverman, a sponsor of the bill. "It will lower turnover rates, which is costly to businesses."

Businesses and some nonprofits opposed the $250 million cost of the bill and said two-thirds of the workers covered don't live in the city and don't pay D.C. income taxes.

"To send so much money out to supporting Maryland and Virginia residents ... I don't support that," Ward 8 Council member LaRuby May said.

Mayor Muriel Bowser also questioned the bill's impact.

"Raising the tax and sending those tax dollars outside the city is problematic," she said.

Bowser has not said whether she would sign the bill. The mayor's allies on the council are lining up against the bill, but it's still expected to pass later this month. It's expected to go into effect in 2020 after initial funds are raised from the employer tax.

The bill excludes federal workers not subject to the tax that pays for it.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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