Over the past few months, some pretty major companies have responded to criticism about America’s leave policies by rolling out some big benefits: At Netflix, for instance, some new parents can stay home for up to a year. And the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation recently matched that offer. That’s great—but only if you work at these prestigious places. But what if paid time-off weren’t dependent upon a company's benevolence, but were instead a right afforded by the government? A new bill introduced on Tuesday, by members of the D.C. City Council would do just that, both for residents of the District and for people who work there.
The proposal is generous compared with leave policies across the country, giving residents 16 weeks off—paid—to tend to a new baby, a sick family member, or other qualifying circumstances.
Introduced by council members David Grosso and Elissa Silverman, the bill is aptly timed. A recent executive order from the Obama administration extended paid sick leave to federal contractors, many of whom live and work in the District. The District was also one of several governments that received a grant from the Department of Labor to investigate how to implement paid-leave policies. Elise Gould, a senior economist at the Economic Policy Institute, says there is momentum at the state and local level to improve family-leave policies right now, mostly driven by necessity. “For the most part, Congress has been fairly quiet about legislation in these areas. So states and localities have decided it's really important to provide some of these basic labor standards.”