Near the end of last year, the District of Columbia city council approved a measure providing paid family leave benefits for private-sector workers. After making it through a congressional review period, the new law took effect on April 7.
Under the Universal Paid Leave Amendment Act, employees are entitled to 90 percent of their regular pay while taking covered leave, and the money would come from employer contributions equal to 0.62 percent of employees’ wages.
According to the fiscal impact statement accompanying the measure, however, there are insufficient funds in the D.C. budget to get the law up and running anytime soon. The district lacks an existing system, such as a temporary disability insurance program, that paid family leave could be grafted onto, which means that a new system must be created and implemented.
Funding for paid family leave isn't exactly a simple issue. Here are examples of four state programs that differ from the D.C. law:
The D.C. law goes beyond these states’ programs in providing employees with 90 percent of their regular wages and requiring employers to foot the bill. Under the measure, eligible employees can receive up to two weeks annually for their own serious health condition, up to six weeks for a family member's serious health condition and up to eight weeks for reasons related to the birth of a child or legal placement of a child with them. Across the three categories, employees are limited to a combined total of eight weeks of paid family leave benefits per year.
The Universal Paid Leave Amendment Act will clearly offer a generous new entitlement for private-sector workers in the District of Columbia, but here’s the big question: When will the district be able to set up the infrastructure needed to launch its paid family leave program?
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