Life got much, much better today for working families in the District, and I couldn’t be more excited! The July 1 launch of DC’s Paid Family and Medical Leave program means that thousands of working families no longer have to make the tough choice between paying bills and taking time off with a new baby or an ill relative.
I’m proud that I was part of the campaign to create DC’s Paid Family and Medical Leave program in 2016, and then defended it from corporate attacks and helped shape regulations needed to create a strong program.
With this launch, parents can now take 8 weeks of paid leave to bond with new babies, which is so critical to a child’s healthy start. The Paid Family and Medical Leave program also gives workers 6 weeks of paid benefits to care for ill relatives, and 2 weeks of paid leave for their own illnesses, which is more important now than ever. This means our loved ones can get compassionate care, and it helps prevent the need for institutional care.
Kim Mitchell’s story reminds us why paid family leave is so critical. Like many DC residents, Kim had to make the impossible choice to continue working while her mother was ill because she couldn’t afford to take unpaid leave. Families like Kim’s now have the right to take paid time off of work to care for their loved ones.
Zach Israel is using DC’s paid leave program to stay home with his new baby, Elliot, reminding us of the type of humane and family-friendly economy we want to build.
I’m proud that DC’s new paid family and medical leave program also will address our gaping economic and racial inequities. The benefits replace wages the most for the lowest-wage workers, equal to 90 percent of their pay. Workers in DC’s most underpaid occupations and neighborhoods will now have access to this critical benefit.
Paid family leave is good for everyone. Parents will have more time to bond with their newborns, allowing more moms to breast-feed and care for their babies, which will reduce DC’s high rate of infant mortality among Black families. Employers will find it easier to attract and keep good employees. More women will be able to stay in the labor market, helping close the gender wage gap.
I’m so glad paid family and medical leave is here for you and me!