ASAE Testifies on DC’s Revised Paid Leave Act

Following a new discussion draft being released on the District of Columbia’s proposed Universal Paid Leave Act, ASAE testified before the DC Council saying the revised bill would still create problems for association employers and employees in the city.

ASAE testified before the DC Council on February 11 on the District of Columbia’s newly revised plan to establish a paid family and medical leave benefit for private-sector employees in the city. Julia Judish, special counsel at Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP, spoke on ASAE’s behalf.

The latest hearing—the third on the District’s proposed Universal Paid Leave Act—provided stakeholders an opportunity to comment on a new discussion draft [PDF] released February 9 by DC Council Chairman Phil Mendelson. Though modestly scaled back from the original plan, the bill still raises serious concerns for ASAE and other District-based associations.

“Even in revised form, the Revised Bill would create significant problems and burdens for association employers and employees in the District,” said ASAE in its written testimony [PDF].

The draft legislation would now allow DC employees to take up to 12 weeks of paid leave for a qualifying event, but that is still twice as generous as three other states with a paid-leave program—California, New Jersey, and Rhode Island. In addition, the participant pool in the new discussion draft has been narrowed to include only private-sector employees working in the District. District residents who work outside the city, federal employees, and district government employees are excluded.

The new draft also requires District employees to exhaust their accrued paid leave under the existing District Accrued Sick and Safe Leave Act first before they can access the new universal paid-leave benefits. Another change to this draft is that it drops the prior proposal to expand DC FMLA coverage to employees who have worked only six months for their employer, rather than the current twelve-month eligibility threshold.

Despite these changes, District employers still have serious concerns about the plan, including the proposed third-party administrator for the paid leave benefit and how that would mesh with their own employer-administered leave policies.

Above all, there remain serious questions about the cost of District’s paid leave plan. The funding mechanism for the paid leave benefit—a 1 percent tax on District employers—remains unchanged in the new draft.

DC’s Chief Financial Officer Jeffrey Dewitt has warned the Council that the expected cost of the benefit would likely exceed anticipated revenue from the employer tax. Importantly, there was no cost analysis of the revised legislation available in time for last week’s hearing.

Chairman Mendelson has said that there could be changes made to the latest version of the bill and possibly additional hearings as well, and ASAE will be closely watching any developments on this issue.


Chris Vest, CAE

By Chris Vest, CAE

Chris Vest, CAE is vice president, corporate communications and public relations at ASAE. MORE

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