Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
It’s your last chance to make a tax-deductible donation to CounterPunch in 2017. Help us gear up to fight the status-quo in 2018! Every dollar counts!
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

No Repeal and Replace for D.C.’s Paid Leave Law

by

Employers should be pleased with the D.C. paid family and medical leave plan. Instead, they are trying to undermine it. Business lobbyists are pushing a “replacement” that gets rid of the best parts of the plan and places heavy burdens on the very employers they presumably are trying to help.

In response to broad public support among business owners and residents for paid family and medical leave, the D.C. Council passed legislation in December to ensure that no private-sector D.C. employee would have to choose between a paycheck and providing necessary care for themselves or their families. The Universal Paid Leave Act became law on April 7, with benefits beginning in 2020. The business lobby, primarily representing very large employers, objected to this law before it passed. Now it is trying to gut it.

Opposition to paid leave legislation by business lobbyists is not new, and neither are the objections they raise. Prior to the passage of California’s first-in-the-nation paid family leave law nearly 15 years ago, the business lobby strongly denounced the measure, claiming it would be a great burden for employers (especially small businesses), lead to abuse by workers and cause economic harm as a job killer. The same objections are raised today here, but experience with paid leave in California, New Jersey and Rhode Island refutes these false claims.

Five years into the California program, Ruth Milkman and I carried out research on employers’ experiences with that state’s paid family leave law that found virtually no abuse by workers and minimal impact on business operations and, thus, no reason to reduce employment. Even better, the data showed that the program saved money for businesses, primarily through reduced turnover, with even more savings for companies with generous paid leave benefits via coordination with the state’s program. Nearly 89 percent of California employers, including those with fewer than 50 employees, reported no effect or a positive effect on productivity, and 91 percent reported no effect or a positive effect on profitability or performance. The District’s program is modeled on California’s.

The D.C. program creates a fair system for the District’s private-sector employees and businesses, setting a basic standard that levels the playing field for the small- and medium-sized companies that make up 99 percent of District employers. Every employer pays a modest tax into one fund that, in turn, pays out benefits when an employee needs leave. In contrast, the business lobby and large employers want to require each company to pay their own employees’ family and medical leaves. These out-of-pocket expenses might be viable for very large employers, but they would impose crushing costs and administrative burdens on small- and medium-size companies.

Employers would need to set up individual insurance funds that were actuarially sound and could cover the cost of their employees’ leaves. While employers’ contributions to cover the cost of leaves is relatively low when spread over D.C.’s entire private-sector workforce through a social insurance fund, they loom large when individual employers must cover the costs of paid leaves for their own employees. The costs to cover these leaves are likely to be economically damaging for all but the largest employers. Requiring employers with 50 or even 100 employees to cover the costs of their own employees’ leaves directly, or to buy equivalent private insurance if such an insurance product becomes available, would saddle many of them with unrealistic financial burdens.

When employers cover the costs of paid leaves for their own workers, these employees must file benefit claims with their employer rather than a government agency. This places new, large administrative requirements and cost burdens on employers, something most would prefer to avoid. Under the business lobby’s proposal, employees are eligible for paid leave based not on their tenure with their current employer but based on past work experience. That means an employee could get in a car accident in their first week of a new job and their new employer would be required to review their employment history, ascertain their eligibility for paid leave, and then pay the full costs of the leave.

The current law, which covers all private-sector D.C. workers through a social insurance fund administered by a government agency, is less costly for most employers, relieves businesses of the bookkeeping burden and added costs of administering the benefit, streamlines compliance and eliminates monitoring by enforcement agencies. It creates a basic standard for paid leave that employers of all sizes can meet or exceed and provides a fair paid leave program for employees.

The District’s Universal Paid Leave Act is the best deal for employers, especially small- and medium-size companies. If the D.C. Council cares about local business interests, it should reject efforts to repeal and replace it.

This article originally appeared in The Washington Post.

More articles by:
December 14, 2017
John W. Whitehead
Surveillance That Never Sleeps
Pam Martens - Russ Martens
Roy Moore’s Loss: a Victory for the Young Girls of America
Eric Toussaint
Debt is a Determining Factor in History
Kenneth Surin
Selective Impressions of the New Zealand-Aotearoa Conjuncture
Liaquat Ali Khan
Appropriation of Jerusalem
Jack Rasmus
Is the Bitcoin Bubble the New ‘Subprime Mortgage’ Bomb?
William Sanjour
How the Once Tiny Waste Management Industry Captured the EPA and Became Very BIG
Devin Currens
Hey Mainstream Environmentalists: If You’re Not Embarrassed, You’re Not Paying Attention
Courtney Myers
“Me Too” Movement Gives Twitter Fuel to Trump’s Fire
Mel Gurtov
Momentum for Talks with North Korea?
Julian Vigo
Student Loans, The Indentured Servitude of the 21st Century
John Carroll Md
Do Jimmy Kimmel and Haiti Have Anything in Common?
Brian Foley
How to Stop Trump
December 13, 2017
Gabriel Rockhill
The U.S. is Not a Democracy, It Never Was
Jim Kavanagh
Zionism in the Light of Jerusalem
John Davis
The Epic of Our Awakening
Linn Washington Jr.
The Shadow of Smuts on Trump’s Jerusalem Declaration
Timothy M. Gill
The Global Retreat From Human Rights in the Trump Administration
Robert Fisk
Trump’s Shameful Decision on Jerusalem
Lance Olsen
Natural Variability isn’t the Final Word on Climate Science
Robert Jensen
In Patriarchy, Sexual “Misconduct” Not Surprising
Cesar Chelala
Living in New York, Missing Home
Mike Bader
Grizzly Bear Goal Not Yet Achieved
Steve Horn
India May Ban Petcoke, One of Dirtiest Fossil Fuels Exported by Koch Brothers
December 12, 2017
John Pilger
Why the Documentary Must Not Be Allowed to Die
David Rosen
Politics Trumps Religion: The Immorality of Republican “Christian” Morality
Ken Levy
Apparently, Child Rapists Deserve the Death Penalty, But a Child Molester Deserves a U.S. Senate Seat
John Wight
Trump’s Jerusalem Ploy
David Swanson
Sun Tzu: The Ass of War
Ramzy Baroud
The ‘Last Martyr’: Who Killed Kamal Al-Assar?
Doug Johnson
Are Polls Showing a Win for Accused Molester Roy Moore Accurate?
Andrew Bacevich
A Harvey Weinstein Moment for America’s Wars?
Robert Dodge
Saving Humanity From Itself
Binoy Kampmark
Pakistan, US Drones and Idle Threats
Tom H. Hastings
Leave it on The Table Again?
Cesar Chelala
Living in New York. Missing Home
December 11, 2017
Oscar Oliver-Didier 
The Invisibility of Poverty in Puerto Rico
Patrick Cockburn
Trump’s Jerusalem Decision Risks Uniting the Entire Arab World Against the US
Uri Avnery
From Barak to Trump
Robert Hunziker
Dying Ecosystems
Paul Tritschler
The Year Without Summer
Ramzy Baroud
What Trump Has Done: The Entire US-Middle East Political Framework Just Collapsed
Francis Thicke
What Does “Organic” Mean?
Franklin Lamb
Foreign Proxies Prematurely Boast “Mission Accomplished” in Syria
Mike Whitney
Petty, Backstabbing by Washington Sinks Russia’s Olympic Dreams
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail