For Immediate Release

October 6, 2015

Contact: Darby Hickey

(202) 724-8105


Grosso Introduces Universal Paid Leave Legislation

Washington, D.C.--Today, Councilmember David Grosso (I-At Large) introduced the Universal Paid Leave Act of 2015, along with Councilmembers Silverman, Allen, Nadeau, May, McDuffie, and Cheh. This legislation, which would give 16 weeks paid leave to all workers in D.C., follows Grosso’s success last year to give D.C. government employees 8 weeks of paid family medical leave.

 “As a country we lag behind the rest of the world on family leave—we need pro-family policies that encourage care taking and nurturing,” said Grosso. “The Universal Paid Leave Act will support our D.C. workers and families, while giving our local businesses a competitive advantage in attracting and retaining highly qualified employees.”

The bill, which Grosso co-wrote with Councilmember Silverman, would allow any employee in D.C., or any D.C. resident employed outside of the city, to access a government-run fund that would pay for up to 16 weeks of leave for a qualifying event. Qualifying events include a baby born or adopted, or major medical operations for the worker or a family member. The bill’s definition of family and major events are inclusive of the diversity of D.C.’s workers and families, including low-income workers, single-parent households, caregiving for non-child family members, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals, and more.

“In D.C. we have been a leader on paid sick days, on raising the minimum wage, and providing paid family leave for government employees,” said Councilmember Silverman. “With this legislation, we once again position D.C. as a national leader on policies that bolster our families, workers, and employers.”

“I am very supportive of this legislation", said Michael Visser of Flying Fish Coffee and Tea. "As a small business, the proposed program would allow me to support paid family leave that I otherwise could not afford,  not only for my own employees, but employees throughout the city."

Research shows that paid leave for either parent after the birth or adoption of a child has a significant positive outcome for the child’s future academic success. After California and New Jersey enacted paid leave programs, employers stated that the new law had a positive effect on employee retention, productivity, and profitability. Read more about the Universal Paid Leave Act of 2015 below.

To read a copy of the bill, click here.


The Universal Paid Leave Act creates a system for District of Columbia workers to receive up to 16 weeks of paid leave for a major life event such as birth or adoption of a child or caring for a sick or injured family member or for self-care.  District of Columbia employers would pay into a city managed fund on a per-employee basis estimated to be less than 1% of the payroll.

Who takes: Any person working in the district for 50% or more of the preceding year for any covered employer.  Self-employed individuals can pay in and be covered; private residents will pay in for themselves and be covered.  DC Government Employees would continue to get their salary during paid leaves, rather than being part of this system, but the number of weeks of leave would be raised from 8 to 16 and add their own serious health conditions as a reason for taking leave.  D.C. residents who work for the federal government or an employer outside of D.C. will pay into the fund individually, as will self-employed D.C. residents.

How much does the employee get?  Up to 16 weeks for a qualifying event.  Wage replacement is Benefits would equal 100% of average weekly wages up to $1,000 a week and then 50% of average earnings above that amount, up to a maximum benefit of $3,000 a week.

Who pays: Covered employer means any individual, partnership, general contractor, subcontractor, association, corporation, business trust, or any person or group of persons acting directly or indirectly in the interest of an employer in relation to an employee, but shall not include the United States or the District of Columbia.

How much does the employer pay? A scaled percentage of their employee’s wage for that pay roll period (less than 1% of the annualized salary before taxes).

What is a qualifying event?     

  • Qualifying event means one of the following:
    1. The birth of a child of the employee;
    2. The legal placement of a child with the employee (such as through adoption, guardianship, or foster care);
    3. The placement with the employee of a child for whom the employee permanently assumes and discharges parental responsibilities; or
    4. Care for a family member or personal serious health condition
  • Family member means
    1. A person to whom the employee is related by blood, legal custody, domestic partnership, or marriage;
    2. A foster child;
    3.  A child who lives with the employee and for whom the employee permanently assumes and discharges parental responsibility; or
    4. A person with whom the employee shares or has shared, within the last year, a mutual residence and with whom the employee maintains a committed relationship. 
  • Personal Care for a "Serious health condition" – this definition is expansive and inclusive so that our LGBTQ population can access leave for procedures that require hospitalization or managed care. The Bill contains inclusive definition of serious health conditions, caregiving, needs for military families, and other reasons for long-term paid leave.

Is the person’s job protected?  D.C. Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) currently protects many employees from termination or other forms of retaliation for taking a leave (which would typically be unpaid, but could include vacation or sick days as a part). Currently, the D.C. FMLA applies to, Businesses with 20 or more employees in the District; and Employees who have worked for the same employer more than a year and worked 1,000 or more hours in the year leading up to their leave request.  The legislation would make only modest changes to job protections under the DC FMLA. It would decrease the hours and month requirement for eligibility for job protection, leave the small business exemption in place, and amends the definitions of “family” and “serious health condition” to match those in other laws.



Infographic: How Access to Paid Leave Helps Fathers

Infographic: To Promote Women’s Leadership, We Need Public Policy 

The Business Case for Paid Leave and Paid Sick Days 

Business School Faculty Letter to Congress

The Economic Benefits of Family and Medical Leave Insurance 

The Science Behind Why Paid Parental Leave is Good for Everyone 

Small Business Majority Research on Paid Family Leave 

The Cost of Doing Nothing, U.S. Department of Labor Secretary Perez