By Josh Fatzick
The mayor in Washington, D.C., is refusing to throw her weight behind a radical proposal from the city’s legislative body that would give residents 16 weeks of paid family leave.
“I think there are some very important questions to be answered,” Bowser told NBC Washington’s Tom Sherwood. “I think certainly everybody wants to support families, but we have some questions for the district government itself and our 33,000 employees.”
The plan, which has majority support in the D.C. Council, would give paid leave benefits to city residents not seen on the same scale anywhere else in the country.
If approved, businesses in the city would be forced to contribute up to one percent of employee’s salaries to a fund for people who miss work to take care of a new born child or a sick relative.
Bowser noted that the city is conducting a fiscal analysis to determine the feasibility of the proposed government imposed benefits.
The council plan, in its current form, would give city residents time off work while providing them up to 100 percent of their salary to deal with things like family illnesses or give them time to recuperate from a military tour.
Businesses in the city would be solely responsible with funding the paid family leave program through a pool of money workers could draw from when they want to take time off.
Critics, however, have slammed the plan, saying it would put too heavy a burden on city businesses and make them noncompetitive in the area job market.
Even The Washington Post, which is generally supportive of city legislative action, is opposed to the plan, calling it unrealistic and saying the plan “goes way too far.”
“D.C. Council members seem to feel there is no limit to the demands they can make on companies that try to do business in the city,” the newspaper’s editorial board wrote in a Wednesday column.
“Why should a company that already offers a range of leave options (vacation, sick time, short- or long-term disability insurance) be required to pay into this fund? Won’t that induce companies to cut back on pay and other benefits or just move to Virginia or Maryland?” the board asked.
When introduced, the bill had support from eight of the 13 members of D.C.’s Democrat-run council. It still needs to go through several rounds of discussion and voting before it can become law.
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