D.C. City Council Advances Most Progressive Paid Leave Policy in the Country

By Gloria Taylor

Last Tuesday, the D.C. City Council voted to move forward with the most expansive paid family and medical leave benefit in the nation. The new benefit, estimated to cost $250 million a year, levels a .62% payroll tax on D.C. businesses. The tax pays for 8 weeks of newborn or adoption leave, 6 weeks to care for a sick relative, and 2 weeks of personal medical leave for both full and part-time employees. Even though Democrats expressed concern over the potential threat to small business, they pushed the measure through the liberal city council on an 11 to 2 vote.

Years of liberal policies governing the District have left the city in shambles with the 4th highest unemployment rate in the country and an all-out public transportation crisis. But the vote by the City Council is not a surprise. The council continues to demonstrate a complete and utter lack of fiscal sanity. Whether it was the approval of a $15 minimum wage hike or physician assisted suicide, progressive policies continue to take root in the city. In fact, the original version of the paid leave proposal called for 16 weeks necessitating a 1% tax. The real kicker, about 60% of the people who would receive the benefits don’t even live in DC.

While rampant liberalism is on full display in D.C., if we learned one thing this election cycle–Washington is out of touch with the rest of the country. The last thing small business owners need is another government mandate telling them how to care for their employees. When forced to offer another benefit, an employer will likely slash wages to compensate for the cost.

Heritage Foundation expert, James Sherk, explains that paid leave mandates harms productivity, cost jobs, and function as a tax on workers depressing wages, savings and consumption.

Employers should be free to explore options that attract workers through generous benefits, but don’t let the federal government mandate it. Money doesn’t grow on trees. Promising every entitlement in the world may be politically attractive, but the bottom line is that someone has to pay for it. Perhaps the government could address existing regulations and barriers to business that when lifted, would lead to rising wages, competitive benefits, and a growing economy.

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