ASAE Testifies at DC Council Hearing on Proposed Paid Leave Act

WASHINGTON — Today, ASAE urged the DC Council to reconsider provisions of the proposed Universal Paid Leave Act in order to eliminate ambiguity and ease any undue burden on the city’s association employers and employees.

WASHINGTON — Today, ASAE urged the DC Council to reconsider provisions of the proposed Universal Paid Leave Act in order to eliminate ambiguity and ease any undue burden on the city’s association employers and employees. 

The District’s 26-page Universal Paid Leave Act of 2015 was introduced Oct. 6, and, if enacted, would be the most generous family-leave law in the country, providing nearly every full-time or part-time employee in the District up to 16 weeks of paid leave to recover from an illness, bond with a new child, or care for a sick relative.

The broad worker benefit, developed with help from the Obama Administration, would be paid for with a tax on DC employers of up to 1 percent of employees’ salaries. District residents who work for employers in Maryland, Virginia, or other nearby jurisdictions would also be forced to contribute to the paid leave fund at the same scaled percentage contribution rate.

“Despite the bill’s good intentions, the concern is that the District’s proposed paid leave act would put undue financial stress on the city’s small employers and on District-residing employees who work for employers in the surrounding metropolitan area,” said ASAE President and CEO John H. Graham IV, FASAE, CAE. “A much less burdensome solution would be to conform the structure of the Act to established structures of existing employment and leave laws in the District.”

At a Dec. 2 hearing before the DC Council, ASAE’s outside counsel testified that the current bill language is unclear as to the amount and extent of paid leave entitlement because there is no provision in the bill stating that use of paid medical leave benefits erodes the availability of paid family leave benefits, or vice versa. Potentially, an eligible employee who experiences a serious health condition and the birth of a new child in the same 12-month period could be entitled to a combined 32 weeks of paid leave benefits.

The bill also contains no exclusions for small-staffed employers, who may have their operations disrupted by prolonged absences of key employees, and provides for no minimum period of employment before an eligible employee can access the benefits, unlike the District’s existing Family Medical Leave Act or the Accrued Sick and Safe Leave Act.

The bill could also have the unintended consequence of restricting job mobility for District residents. Prospective employers outside the District could be hesitant to hire any applicant who lived in or worked in the District within the prior 12 months because hiring that employee would subject the employer to legal obligations they would not otherwise have.

“There are a lot of serious concerns with the legislation as drafted – concerns that could be devastating to both employers and employees if allowed to take effect,” Graham said. “Hopefully, the Council will take these concerns into consideration and seek to balance the interests of employers and employees when it comes to possible enhancements to existing leave laws in the District.”

MEDIA CONTACT: Sabrina Kidwai, APR, CAE, [email protected], 202-326-9505.

About ASAE: The Center for Association Leadership
ASAE is a membership organization of more than 21,000 association executives and industry partners representing 9,300 organizations. Its members manage leading trade associations, individual membership societies and voluntary organizations across the United States and in nearly 50 countries around the world. With support of the ASAE Foundation, a separate nonprofit entity, ASAE is the premier source of learning, knowledge and future-oriented research for the association and nonprofit profession, and provides resources, education, ideas and advocacy to enhance the power and performance of the association and nonprofit community. For more information about ASAE, visit www.asaecenter.org.