DC Council approves generous paid family and medical leave measure

Filed under: News |

By Joy Waltemath

By Pamela Wolf, J.D.

On December 21, by a 9-4 vote, the Council of the District of Columbia approved a generous paid family and medical leave bill that clearly will not be signed by Mayor Muriel Bowser. The measure would provide private-sector employees, and self-employed individuals who opt in, with up to six weeks of family medical leave, eight weeks of parental leave, and two weeks of qualifying personal medical leave within a 52-work-week period.

Under the “Universal Paid Leave Amendment Act of 2016″ (B21-415), which passed as substitute bill with two amendments made at the last minute, individuals whose average weekly pay is 150 percent or less of the District’s minimum wage would be eligible for 90 percent of their average weekly wage while on leave. Those whose pay is greater than that floor would be entitled to 90 percent of the District’s minimum wage multiplied by 40, plus 50 percent of the amount by which the employee’s average weekly pay exceeds 150 percent of the District’s minimum wage multiplied by 40. The paid leave would not, however, be permitted to exceed the maximum weekly benefit amount, set at $1,000 a week for leave prior to October 1, 2021, and then indexed annually thereafter.

The paid leave provided under B21-415 would be funded by employer (or self-employed individual) contributions of 0.62 percent of wages of each of its employees in a manner to be prescribed by the D.C. Mayor.

Mayor opposed to the measure. The bill would become effective with Mayor Bowser’s signature, but she has vowed not to sign the measure, saying in a statement: “Today, Chairman Mendelson and the Council passed a $250 million tax increase to mostly benefit residents of Maryland and Virginia. It is wrong to raise District taxes to fund a costly, new government program that sends 66 percent of the benefits outside of the city, and leaves District families behind. If the Council wants to raise $250 million in new taxes, shouldn’t the focus be on District residents and their needs?

“Councilwoman Cheh was correct when she described this legislation as ill-considered, a situation we are likely to regret, and not the best way to go. I predict the Council will need to revisit this legislation and address the detrimental impacts on District residents and small businesses.

“I will not add my name to this legislation.”

However, the legislation could become effective without Bowser’s signature. If she vetoes the bill, though, the Council would need to muster a two-thirds vote (which it did on final reading already) in order to override her veto. If the legislation survived, it would be assigned an Act number but would still be required to undergo a 30-day U.S. Congressional review.

Source:: Employment Law Daily Newsfeed


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