On February 11, 2016, the DC City Council will hold a public hearing on the Universal Paid Leave Act of 2015. This new program would allow for up to 16 weeks of paid family and medical leave for individuals who work or live in the District. In addition, the legislation would also amend the DC Family Medical Leave Act (DCFMLA) to state that any individual would qualify as an employee after working at least 6 months or 500 hours during a period of 12 months with the same employer.
While ABC of Metro Washington understands the importance of leave and providing opportunities for employees to take care of themselves and their families, the legislation raises many significant issues of concern, which have resulted in ABC opposing the bill as drafted. In particular, the legislation in its current form would:
- Mandate that all District of Columbia based employers, or employers who hold a District license of any kind, pay a tax of 1% of their total payroll to the District government to cover the cost of the program.
- Mandate that employers provide up to 16 weeks paid leave per 12 month calendar year to all employees who spend the majority of their time working in the District, who are District residents or who work for an employer based in, or licensed in, the District.
- Provide via the fund, 100% salary reimbursement up to $1,000 and 50% above that for a maximum weekly reimbursement of $3,000 per week for employees taking leave.
- Require employers to provide job security for employees using this newly-established leave program.
- Assume that companies are guilty of retaliation for any actions against an employee who has taken leave and provides for a variety of penalties to be paid by the employer.
- Impose a 1% tax on District residents who work for non-covered employers or the federal government, even though they don’t qualify for the program.