DC Could Soon Get America's Best Family Benefits
Paid leave will be more than double that of rest of US
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 6, 2015 4:59 AM CDT
See you in 16 weeks.   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – Washington, DC, could be about to leave the rest of the US behind and move a lot closer to Europe, at least as far as family leave is concerned. The DC Council backs legislation, to be introduced Tuesday, that would give workers 16 weeks of paid leave for events like the birth or adoption of a child, the terminal illness of a parent, or recovery from a military deployment, reports the Washington Post. The paper notes that the plan applies to almost all workers in the city (including part-time) and is more than double anything on offer in any of the 50 states. It will cover 100% of pay for people making $52,000 a year or less; the maximum weekly pay for the highest earners would be $3,000 per week. The new Family and Medical Leave Fund would be funded by a levy on employers that the Post likens to a state unemployment insurance fund, with employers paying in on a sliding scale that goes up to 1% of salaries for the highest-paid workers.

WAMU reports the Universal Paid Leave Act of 2015 has the votes to pass the Council; the legislation would then go to the mayor. The DC plan is a big victory for President Obama's push to boost family leave. Instead of trying to get legislation through Congress, the administration is offering grants to help create state-level paid family leave plans. The 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," DC Council member Elissa Silverman tells the Post. "We now have a national platform and a great opportunity with this legislation to show how it can be done." The US is one of the only countries in the world without paid maternal leave, and experts say that has caused a lower rate of female participation in the labor force, reports the International Business Times. (This tech firm offers mothers and fathers a year's paid leave.)