Last week, the Council stepped up for D.C. working families by advancing paid family leave on its first vote. I was proud to introduce that legislation along with Councilmember Silverman last year and thankful for the work of Chairman Mendelson to get it to where it is now.
Paid leave is good for workers and businesses. It provides financial stability to workers while allowing them to care for ailing family members. Parents who take leave after the arrival of a new child would return to work in better general health. More women would participate in the work place. Infant mortality would decline. Businesses would have a new benefit to offer that makes them more competitive and able to attract better workers. The list goes on. All this while continuing the upward trajectory of the District’s thriving economy, according to the Council’s budget office.
The legislation that we have advanced is the best option to bring paid family leave to the District of Columbia.
It’s true these benefits will be extended to all those who work in the District of Columbia, but that does not detract from D.C. residents’ eligibility for the program.
Some critics have called for a system that only provides benefits to District residents, where the annual pay outs to beneficiaries would be smaller.
However, the cost per employee would be higher due to fixed set-up and administrative costs. The fund that provides the payout would also be less stable since it would have a smaller pool.
Worst of all, it would harm D.C. residents by creating a perverse incentive for D.C. businesses to hire Virginia and Maryland residents over District-based workers in order to avoid paying into the fund.
All of our workplace laws protect and provide benefits based on where people work, not live. The minimum wage increase, which was championed by the mayor and unanimously passed by the Council earlier this year, goes to workers regardless of where they live. It sends over $313 million into neighboring jurisdictions annually, though it benefits far fewer people then paid leave and is far more than the total $242 million in annual benefits that paid leave would offer to ALL D.C. workers. We supported it anyways because it was the right thing to do for our workers who needed it most.
Many people who work here, don’t live in this city. Our lack of statehood disadvantages us as policymakers when trying to raise revenue from them. But that has never stopped us from doing the right thing for our workers and our residents.
We recognize that the working families of D.C. can’t wait for the injustice of our second-class status to be righted before relieving them of having to make the difficult choice between a paycheck and caring for a loved one. That’s why eleven members of the Council voted yes on paid leave.
So call, email, and tweet your Councilmembers THANKS for supporting paid leave last week! You can find all their information here by visiting www.dccouncil.us/council.