Family Values @ Work commends the DC Paid Family Leave Coalition for their work to restore sections of the DC Universal Paid Leave bill that will most benefit those workers least likely to have paid leave through an employer. We appreciate that this version of the bill, as described to the media by Council Chair Phil Mendelson, provides for 11 weeks of parental leave, with progressive wage replacement rates reaching 90 percent for those earning 1.5 times the minimum wage or less. We also are glad to see that care for seriously ill parents and other loved ones has been restored, including for mental illness. Importantly, this version includes part-time employees, who often work more than one part-time job.
The plan, however, is lacking in two significant ways: the leave doesn’t apply to a person’s own medical condition, and the definition of family is too narrow to reflect the complexity of today’s families.
It would be short-sighted and self-defeating to say, ‘You can have affordable leave to care for a spouse with cancer, but if cancer strikes you, you’re got more than the illness to worry about — your family will face the loss of your income and possibly your job.’ In that scenario, everyone loses, including the DC economy, with the heaviest burden on low-wage workers who have no access to employer-provided temporary disability insurance.
On family definition, this version of the bill does restore parents and other loved ones, but leaves out siblings and chosen family. For many people, a sibling or close friend is often the only person in a position to provide vital care.
We call on Chair Mendelson to amend the bill to include time to care for one’s own health condition and to apply to all families. Let the bill live up to its name and decrease, rather than add to, the growing inequities in our society.