More paid parental and medical leave for employees at DC-based businesses

In a sudden windfall for private sector workers in D.C. and their employers, benefits are being greatly expanded in the city’s Paid Family Leave program, and employers are going to start paying less to fund it.

At-Large Council member Elissa Silverman said Tuesday the changes are based on an analysis of the program’s funds by the city’s chief financial officer.

“Employers were paying too much money into the fund for the benefits their employees were getting. So, what the CFO said is, in fact, we can vastly increase and expand the benefit we said employees will get, and we can reduce the tax rate as well,” Silverman said.

The CFO found that the city’s Paid Family Leave account, funded since 2019 by an additional payroll tax paid by employers, is so flush with money that starting in July, paid parental leave for employees can jump from eight to 12 weeks, and medical and family leave will climb from six to 12 weeks.

At the same time, the payroll tax that employers pay to fund the program is being reduced from six-tenths of 1% to less than three-tenths of 1%.

“This is a big deal both for workers in the city and for their employers,” Silverman said. “Workers are going to get access to more paid leave, which we’ve seen during this pandemic is necessary. Employers get a win because their getting a big tax cut … and the city benefits.”

Silverman, the chair of the Council’s Committee on Labor and Workforce Development, pointed to studies that show paid family leaves promotes family health and well-being, while boosting worker retention, productivity and loyalty.

“We think it’s a win-win. It certainly helps; it’s a bit of welcome relief. We’re very excited … and the savings are welcome,” said Andrew Kline, general counsel for the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington.

Silverman immediately forged ahead with a hearings on a second bill that would expand to 12 weeks paid leave benefits for D.C. government workers, including parental leave and family caregiving leave, and add personal medical and prenatal leave.

Dick Uliano

Whether anchoring the news inside the Glass-Enclosed Nerve Center or reporting from the scene in Maryland, Virginia or the District, Dick Uliano is always looking for the stories that really impact people's lives.

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