DC Announces Groundbreaking Parental Leave Policy

Cropped SingleCare logo By | December 16, 2015

Groundbreaking new legislation proposed in the District of Columbia would give employees the most generous parental leave policy in the U.S. — but will the rest of the country follow suit?

When you have a new addition to your family, getting back to work is the last thing on your mind. According to the Washington Post, a new policy proposal in Washington, DC would give both part-time and full-time employees up to 16 weeks of paid family leave, the most generous municipal policy in the U.S. by a large margin.

If passed by the DC Council, the initiative will be paid for through a new tax on local employers. It won’t just cover parental leave — other important forms of leave are included, too. But while the majority of the DC Council supports the proposal, the rest of the country remains unconvinced, with nearby Maryland and Virginia turning down the opportunity to participate for its residents who work in the District.

Extending Leave

Outside of this proposal, the longest paid leave in the U.S. is six weeks of partial pay in New Jersey and California. Now, DC employees making up to $52,000 annually will be able to receive full pay for over twice that amount of time, with those who earn more receiving benefits according to their salaries.

By making such a bold move, the District hopes to be the first step in bringing the U.S. onboard with the rest of the developed world, approaching European policies which allow up to a year’s paid leave following a new child. The question remains whether other states will choose to join, or if the measure will even pass in DC Proponents of the measure are hopeful — Council member and lead supporter of the new policy, Elissa Silverman said of its success, “The Obama administration has realized the action is on the state and local level, and they gave us the money to model how this could actually work… we now have a national platform and a great opportunity to show how it can be done.”

Facing Opposition

Despite the popularity of the policy, opponents complain that it could spell the end of DC as a competitive business market. The DC Chamber of Commerce claimed in a letter to the Council that the local business community had not been allowed access to developmental research used in creating the policy, so they can’t be sure of its effects on business.

If fully implemented, every local employer will be required to pay into a fund on a sliding scale. This scale was devised by the nonprofit Institute for Women’s Policy Research, who believe the extra leave will help the most vulnerable workers the most. It also follows a recent Executive Order extending paid sick leave to federal contractors, many of whom live in DC Both these measures can be seen as attempts to make living in DC simpler for families — something that everyone can agree is a good thing.

New Parents Now

For now, all eyes are on the DC Council, which will hold a vote on the proposal early next year, according to wtop. Whether or not the policy becomes law, the most important thing for new parents is finding the best healthcare possible. With SingleCare, you can have affordable access to a vast network of obstetricians, gynecologists and pediatricians that might otherwise be out of reach. When you sign up for your free SingleCare account, you’re taking another step in the direction of having a healthy and happy family.

(Main image credit: MIXA next/Thinkstock)