Washington, D.C. Workers Could Soon Get 16 Weeks Of Paid Family Leave, The Longest In The Country

All families would be eligible, regardless of sexual orientation or marital status.

On Tuesday, the District of Columbia's council members introduced a new legislation that would allow D.C. employees 16 weeks of paid family leave, in what could be the most generous paid leave program in the country. The bill would allow almost all full- and part-time employees in the nation's capital to take up to four months of leave to bond with a newborn or adopted child, recover from illness, recuperate from a military deployment or care for a sick family member. 

The benefit would be paid for by funds from a newly created tax on employers. Those earning up to $52,000 a year would get paid in full, and workers with higher salaries could get $1,000 each week and an additional 50 percent off with a cap of $3,000. The only employees who are not eligible are Maryland and Virginia residents who work for the federal government because, according to The Washington Post, D.C. could not convince it to participate.

Enthusiastically backed by the White House, the bill goes a step further than D.C.'s current family leave — 16 weeks of unpaid but job-guaranteed leave — and more than double the length of any other paid leave program in the U.S.

"As a country we lag behind the rest of the world on family leave — we need pro-family policies that encourage care taking and nurturing," Council member David Grosso, one of the bill's chief proponents, said in a statement on Tuesday.

Advocates are praising the proposed bill. In a statement released after it was announced, Sarah Jane Glynn, director of Women's Economic Policy at the Center for American Progress, had this to say:

The bill introduced today by the D.C. Council would provide much needed economic security to working families in the District of Columbia, and this legislation should serve as a model to states and municipalities looking to develop their own paid family and medical leave insurance programs.

The legislation would apply to all families, regardless of sexual orientation or marital status.

Cover image via iStock / FotoimperiyA