D.C.'s Paid Family Leave Bill on Slower Track

A proposed D.C. law that would require employers to give employees 16 weeks of paid family leave, which would be the most generous family-leave program in the nation, hit a snag and is no longer on the fast track for approval.

A majority of D.C. Council members introduced the bill in October, almost assuring it would pass. But businesses, government and nonprofits complained a new tax of up to 1 percent to pay for the plan would cost too much and strain many smaller companies.

“There are a lot of issues with the Paid Leave Act, and we need to work our way through it,” Council Chairman Phil Mendelson said.

Mendelson said a hearing on the bill Wednesday would only be the first of at least three through February.

“If you're a company that has 500 employees and one or two of them take leave, that's a very different scenario than if you're a small business of eight employees and two of them take leave,” Mendelson said.

Even at-large Council member David Grosso, the main sponsor of the bill, acknowledged more hearings were necessary and the bill might change.

Business groups, including the D.C. Chamber of Commerce, welcome the slower track for the bill but still don't support it.

“We want people to be able to take care of their families. We're not against that,” said Harry Wingo of the D.C. Chamber of Commerce. “We are against this bill. This bill goes too far, too fast and would hurt businesses in D.C.”

Mayor Muriel Bowser cautioned again Monday that the act, if passed, would be difficult even for the city to enact for its 30,000 employees.

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