FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: October 6, 2015
CONTACT: Ashley Fox (Council) – (202) 724-8030; firstname.lastname@example.org
Councilmember Silverman Introduces Universal Paid Family Leave Bill for District Workers
WASHINGTON, DC – Today, At-Large Councilmember Elissa Silverman introduced the Universal Paid Leave Act, co-written with Councilmember Grosso, to establish a citywide fund to pay earned benefits for up to 16 weeks of family or medical leave. The bill would allow every employer to offer paid family and medical leave to their employees for personal medical care, child births or adoptions, and circumstances requiring time serving as a primary caregiver.
The legislation, co-introduced by seven councilmembers, aims to ensure that everyone living or working in D.C. will have the ability to take paid leave when needed for self-care or family care, whether working in a for-profit or non-profit business. “With this legislation, we once again position D.C. as a national leader on policies that bolster our families, workers, and employers,” said Silverman.
The bill contains inclusive definitions of family, including LGBTQ, single, or foster parents, along with inclusive definitions of serious health conditions, caregiving, needs for military families, and other reasons for long-term paid leave. Employees would not have to work a minimum number of hours or days before becoming eligible for benefits. Small contributions would be paid by employers, similar to unemployment insurance, with a portion of D.C. residents not covered by an employer contribution paying into the fund no more than 1% of their wages.
"As a country we lag behind the rest of the world on family leave-we need pro-family policies that encourage care taking and nurturing," said Councilmember Grosso. "The Universal Paid Leave Act will support our D.C. workers and families, while giving our local businesses a competitive advantage in attracting and retaining highly qualified employees."
Paid leave has been shown to support businesses by increasing productivity and reducing costly employee turnover, as employees are able to take leave when needed and return to work. Businesses that already offer paid leave can either make their policies more generous or pocket the savings as the Paid Leave fund replaces their workers’ salaries. Self-employed residents would be able to opt out of the program.
Paid family leave for infant care has also been shown to decrease infant and maternal mortality, improve the mental health of both mothers and fathers, improve infant bonding, and contribute to better early childhood learning and social and emotional development. Further, women return to the workforce in greater numbers after having children, and fathers are encouraged to be more involved as parents.
“In D.C. we have been a leader on paid sick days, on raising the minimum wage, and providing paid family leave for government employees,” said Silverman. “No one in the District of Columbia should have to choose between family and a paycheck.”