September 30, 2016
In reaction to a measure in the D.C. City Council that would constitute one of the most generous paid leave measures in the country, the D.C. Chamber of Commerce has countered with a proposal that would require employers to provide eight weeks of paid leave, but enable them to choose how to pay for the benefit. The bill would require up to 12 weeks of paid family leave, paid for with a one percent payroll tax on employers. The employers' proposal, which is also supported by a consortium of D.C. universities, would require businesses that employ more than 50 people to offer full-time employees eight weeks of paid leave at 100 percent of an employee's pay. University officials say that they would rather use existing leave policies based on the Family and Medical Leave Act and not have to pay into a government-run fund they would have no control over. According to Janene Jackson, senior counsel at Holland & Knight, which is representing the D.C. Chamber of Commerce, "We are all in agreement that employees should be taken care of," but "it's the manner in which we provide the leave and how it's paid for… We don't believe that there should be an additional tax placed on businesses." However, D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson said: "The employer mandate basically takes advantage of the fact that large companies currently offer disability insurance. They can afford the insurance, and therefore they provide it. It would be no cost to them, that's why they're pushing it. But it leaves out the small businesses, and that's a problem."