DC lawmakers write bill to extend paid leave to remain competitive

D.C. lawmakers are taking steps to stay competitive in recruiting and retaining city workers, unanimously passing a bill to extend paid leave on its first reading.

“We’re doing this to be competitive,” said At-Large Council member Elissa Silverman, cutting right to the chase when discussing her bill that would expand parental and medical leave from eight to 12 weeks if it becomes law.

“It’s to attract high-quality talent and high-quality employees who live in the District of Columbia, especially who might work for the federal government, or a large nonprofit or private sector company, because of the paid leave offerings. I think it’s also the right thing to do,” Silverman said.

The bill passed the council unanimously on the first reading Wednesday.

The bill’s co-sponsor At-large Council member Christina Henderson said they added two weeks of prenatal leave already offered in the private sector program.

“The whole idea there was: There are occasions and situations that happen, you know, before a child arrives, where expecting parents might need to take time off for a procedure or something else. And so, we wanted to make that available to them because the way that parental leave is set up, you’re not able to actually access that until a delivery happens,” Henderson said.

As it’s written, the bill would allow D.C. employees to take 12 weeks of leave the first year but not more than 16 in two years.

“You can either take 12 [weeks] of let’s say, parental if you have a new baby. You can take up to 12 [weeks] plus the two weeks of prenatal care. Or you can, say, take eight [weeks], and then use four weeks for family care. It all adds needs to add up to 12,” Silverman explained.

Next, the bill goes to committee.

Megan Cloherty

WTOP Investigative Reporter Megan Cloherty primarily covers breaking news, crime and courts.

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