We applaud the DC councilmembers for passing DC’s paid family leave bill out of the Committee of the Whole today. The bill, in its current state, which is expected for final vote on December 20th, now includes two weeks of medical leave, a provision that had been removed in the previous version. While the time is minimal, it establishes the critical principle that we all at times need to care for ourselves as well as for new children and seriously ill family members. The bill also calls for eight weeks of parental leave and six weeks of family caregiving leave with the best model of wage replacement for those who can least afford leave — 90 percent for people earning up to 150 percent of minimum wage.
The decision to move forward with the bill is commendable and demonstrates the councilmembers agree that no one should have to choose between taking care of themselves or a loved one and earning a paycheck. We look forward to the Council passing this bill, and urge Mayor Muriel Bowser to sign it, so that the nation’s capital can set the pace for the nation as a whole.
This progress is due in part to the hard work of our member coalition, the DC Paid Leave Campaign, which brought together broad and diverse support, a powerful testimony from scores of people who have been affected by a lack of paid leave.
While we are encouraged by the progress made today, it is important to recognize the eight weeks of parental leave proposed is shy of the 12 weeks recommended by doctors to be sufficient to care for infants during this critical time in infants’ lives. Likewise, the time for self-care needs to be expanded. Additionally, this bill lacks a broad definition of family, excluding siblings from access to paid leave. We hope to see progress on these areas in the future.
We commend Chairman Mendelson, Councilmembers Elissa Silverman and David Grosso for their leadership, as well as other councilmembers who have championed this proposal and defended it against strong corporate lobbying.
In addition to the vote in DC, the national movement for paid leave received a boost today with Ikea announcing an expansion of their paid parental leave policy to include fathers and increase the amount of paid time off to six weeks at full pay and six additional weeks at 50 percent pay. This is a significant uptick from their previous policy and underscores the move by more and more large companies in support of strong paid leave policies. Notably, Ikea’s new policy also includes non-exempt employees and more unusual, part-time employees, a group of workers who are often unable to access paid leave.
At a time of growing awareness that many in our economy have been left behind, a paid leave program is a critical tool to help reduce inequality and make it possible for everyone to prioritize and care for their family. In addition to stronger families and public health, paid leave will mean stronger businesses and a stronger economy.
We congratulate Ikea for their move in the right direction, commend DC councilmembers for their progress in ensuring paid leave for all DC workers, and we will continue to advocate for inclusive paid leave policies so that all workers can put their own health and the health of their families first.