Councilmembers in the District of Columbia introduced the Universal Paid Leave Act of 2015 on Tuesday, which could make the nation’s capital the first city to offer paid family and medical leave for nearly all its residents.
According to The Washington Post, if legislation passes, almost every part-time and full-time employee in D.C. will be offered 16 weeks of paid family leave. This means employees will receive a paycheck in the event of recovering from illness, spending time with an infant or adopted child, tending to sick family members or recuperating from military deployment.
The funding pool will come from a new tax placed on private D.C. employers based on a salary-dependent sliding scale. These private employers would pay between 0.6 and 1 percent of their employees’ salaries, according to Slate. Workers who earn up to $52,000 a year, will receive 100 percent of pay during their leave. Those who make more than that can earn up to $1,000 a week plus 50 percent of their salary, with a maximum of $3,000 per week.
The legislation, which was introduced by D.C. councilmembers David Grosso and Elissa Silverman, would be eligible for almost all D.C. residents and employees. The federal government will not participate, but D.C. federal employees and contractors could opt into the system with a small participation fee.
The U.S. is one of the few countries in the world without national paid leave. It is also one of three countries with no paid maternity leave laws (the other two being Papua New Guinea and Oman). Currently, only three states (California, New Jersey and Rhode Island) have implemented paid family and medical leave. However, the maximum benefit is six weeks partial paid leave in New Jersey and California, while Rhode Island only offers four weeks of partial pay. If passed, the new D.C. legislation would be almost double that.