The DC Council decided to hold off voting on two important pieces of legislation, the Universal Paid Leave Act of 2015 (UPLA) and the Hours and Scheduling Stability Act of 2015, until this fall, after its recess. While this is unfortunate news, considering that District workers strongly need family leave and fair scheduling, it reflected a reasonable desire to take the time needed to craft the strongest legislation possible on both fronts. We look forward to the Council taking up these bills in September.
The current paid family leave proposal would provide up to 12 weeks of paid leave for workers in DC to care for themselves, a new child, or an ill family member. It would be funded largely with a tax on payroll paid by employers, equal to less than a $1/day for workers earning minimum wage, and less than $4/day for workers earning $100,000 annually.
While there appears to be broad support in the Council to establish paid family and medical leave insurance, some key questions remain about how to structure the program with the available resources. The considerations that remain to be worked out include:
- The level of benefit that the proposed payroll tax will support, including the number of weeks of benefits;
- Details on certain qualifications for the program, including the definition of family;
- The start-up and ongoing administrative costs of the program; and
- Which government agency will run the program.
The fair scheduling bill would mandate that employers make additional hours available to current employees before they can make a new hire. In addition, the bill ensures that employees are provided with advance notice of their schedules, and entitles employees to additional pay should their employer make changes to their schedule after the notification period.
Similar to UPLA, some technical details are still being hammered out. These include:
- Allowing employers to change a worker’s schedule on short notice in certain circumstances, without added pay, such as when certain large events are cancelled or rescheduled; and
- Ensuring that recordkeeping requirements are not overly burdensome to businesses.
We hope that the Council utilizes the rest of the summer to make the necessary changes to these bills so that strong, sustainable legislation can be passed and implemented quickly.
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