In our nation's capital, private sector employees, particularly those in low-paid hourly jobs, should be rejoicing as D.C.'s Council voted to approve the nation's most generous paid-family-leave law. Under the new law, private sector employees, both full and part time, will now be entitled to eight weeks of paid time off after the birth of a child, as well as six weeks to care for a sick family member, and two weeks of sick leave for the worker. The new law does not apply to federal or district government employees.
The paid family leave provides for employees to receive up to $1,000 per week from the city, which is provided for by a payroll tax that employers will be required to pay. It is unclear, however, whether these benefits will supplement, replace, or just be in addition to those provided by private employers. Unfortunately, the new program is not expected to roll out until 2019, and much work still needs to be done to finalize the program.
Controversy Over Payroll Tax
Local small and large business owners were able to come together against the law passing. However, the less than 1% payroll tax is likely to have a more dramatic effect on large, rather than small employers.
This is largely due to the fact that large employers tend to already have some sort of paid maternity leave policy in place, and the new law just increases their costs to provide the policy. Additionally, large employers will bear the brunt of the payroll tax, particularly for high wage workers, of which D.C. has plenty. Small employers are expected to benefit from the new law as it will allow employees to benefit from being able to take paid paternal leave.
Benefits for Non-D.C. Residents
Another criticism the new law is facing is that nearly two-thirds of the district's workers don't actually live in the district. Opponents of the new law assert that the majority of the $250 million in taxes that will be collected from D.C. businesses as part of the new law is going to be used to benefit non-D.C. residents.
If you're curious about whether your state requires or provides for similar leave, FindLaw can help.