The Washington, DC City Council seems very eager to drive jobs out of the district and into Maryland or Virginia. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson (D-Obviously) has proposed legislation forcing employers to pay employees not to work for up to 11 weeks. There is no significant opposition party to the Democrats in DC so the measure will almost certainly pass, despite complaints from business owners.
The law would require employers to give 11 weeks of paid leave for new parents and 8 weeks of paid leave to care for dying parents or grandparents.
Under the plan, full-time and part-time employees would be able to draw from a government account to receive up to 90 percent of their pay. The benefit would be capped at $1,000 a week.
It would be funded by a 0.62 percent increase in the payroll taxes on businesses of every size, despite strong opposition from the city’s largest private employers.
The law would do nothing for people who are facing their own health problems.
Advocates say paid family leave fills a crucial need in a country where 59 percent of mothers with infants are in the workforce. Studies show that when a parent can care for an infant or child after birth or adoption, it results in improved health for both the child and parent.
Something else that results in improved health for child and parent is the availability of good paying jobs. You can bet that those will become scarce within DC if this law takes effect. The arguments for the law include the standard mantra about the U.S. not being enough like socialist European countries.
The U.S. is the only industrialized nation without a national paid leave law of any kind and just 12% of U.S. workers in the private sector can get paid family leave through their employer, according to the Department of Labor. Only a handful of states have enacted paid leave laws.
And yet somehow our country has managed to become an economic superpower.
Family leave became an item for national debate during the Clinton administration and in 1993 President Clinton signed into law the Family and Medical Leave Act. That law only required that employers allow their employees to take extended unpaid leave without losing their job. Conservatives warned then that mandated paid leave would not be far behind.
The city government in Washington, DC has a history of targeting the private sector with burdensome requirements. In 2013 they passed a law requiring certain businesses (aka Walmart) pay employees a premium over and above minimum wage. Walmart told DC that if the law passed, it would affect their plans to build additional stores in DC. The law did pass and Walmart cancelled plans to build two stores in DC earlier this year.
DC officials were outraged that Walmart acted in its own interest. They’ll likely be just as outraged when businesses flee the district to avoid the additional payroll taxes.