National Partnership for Women & Families

D.C. Council Approves ‘Smart, Fair, Comprehensive’ Paid Leave Program the District Needs and Deserves, Women’s Leader Says

Statement of Debra L. Ness, President, National Partnership for Women & Families
WASHINGTON, D.C. — December 20, 2016 —

“Today, members of the D.C. Council showed real leadership by providing final approval of a historic paid family and medical leave insurance fund that will benefit the District of Columbia’s workers and families, businesses of all sizes and the local economy. The proposal now goes to Mayor Muriel Bowser. This policy is smart, fair and comprehensive, and it should move forward. When it does, the District will be the first jurisdiction to establish a paid family and medical leave insurance program from scratch (without an existing temporary disability program), based on effective and tested programs that have been in place for years in a handful of states. The District will be more family friendly as a result of this sound approach.

The National Partnership for Women & Families commends Chairman Phil Mendelson, Councilmembers Elissa Silverman and David Grosso for their leadership in crafting and championing the Universal Paid Leave Act, and the council members who voted for the bill today, especially in light of recent attempts to weaken or replace the proposal. We also applaud the D.C. Paid Family Leave Coalition for its tireless work to make today’s victory possible. From the beginning, the coalition and the bill’s lead sponsors were committed to a program that provides critical paid family leave for new parents and family caregivers, as well as paid personal medical leave for workers who are dealing with serious illnesses or injuries of their own. With today’s vote, the Council has adopted a policy that enshrines these core features.

The future of the Universal Paid Leave Act and whether it will have the chance to benefit the District of Columbia in much-needed ways is now in the hands of the mayor and then members of Congress. The bill should advance without delay. By approving the measure, the D.C. Council has responded to the needs and demands of the District’s voters, 80 percent of whom say they support a program like this. And the program the Universal Paid Leave Act would create is highly reasonable, leaving room for improvement when it comes to the number of weeks provided compared to existing state programs, while accounting for important lessons learned in those states – especially in recognizing the financial challenges low-wage workers face. The District of Columbia will be better off when this bill becomes law.”

The National Partnership for Women & Families drafted and led the fight for the Family and Medical Leave Act. The organization is a nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy group dedicated to promoting fairness in the workplace, access to quality health care and policies that help women and men meet the dual demands of work and family. More information is available at

  Please leave this field empty