DC's Paid Family Leave Bill Placed on Pause

What to Know

  • Both Mayor Muriel Bowser and city business owners have expressed concerns over its cost.

A controversial bill to give employees in the District 16 weeks of paid family leave has hit a snag.

D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson said Monday the council will not vote on the measure before it adjourns for its summer recess. Mendelson said the vote won't happen until at least late this year. 

If passed, the bill -- known as the Universal Paid Leave Act -- would be one of the most progressive family leave policies in the nation. As currently written, it would be funded by a one percent payroll tax on employers.

The District government already has a family leave plan that allows for eight weeks, but this proposal would apply to all private businesses in the District.

Councilmembers David Grosso and Elissa Silverman co-authored the bill, which would allow any employee in D.C., or any D.C. resident who works outside of the District, to receive pay for up to 16 weeks of leave to care for a baby recently born or adopted, or to care for family members after major medical operations.

The council held hearings last winter on the matter, and both Mayor Muriel Bowser and city business owners have expressed concerns over its cost. Businesses have lobbied hard against the costs of the proposal, saying it would hurt both large and small firms.


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A majority of the council appears to favor some sort of family leave bill, but insiders say the proposal likely will be cut from 16 weeks to eight when it comes up again.

On Monday, Grosso criticized the postponement on the vote, saying in a statement he was determined to advance the measure this fall.

"The working families of the District of Columbia need the security and stability this legislation provides," Grosso said in the statement. "I'm disappointed that we're not moving forward[;] however I remain committed to the goals of the bill and to enactment by the end of the year."

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