The Committee Calls on the DC Council to Vote in Support of the Universal Paid Leave Act of 2015

Chairman Phil Mendelson
Council of the District of Columbia
1350 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Suite 504
Washington, DC 20004

Re: Universal Paid Leave Act of 2015

Dear Chairman Mendelson:

We write to express our strong support of the Universal Paid Leave Act of 2015 and urge you to vote in support of the bill on December 6, 2016.

As advocates for workplace justice, family economic stability, and gender equality, we applaud the D.C. Council for its leadership in crafting a progressive and inclusive bill that will provide crucial support to our community members when they most need it.  The lack of access to paid family and medical leave is an unfortunate anachronism in our country, and we are proud to live and work in a city that is committed to leading on this issue.  We are particularly pleased with the bill’s progressive wage replacement rate, as low-wage workers can least afford to forgo more than 10% of their income. We also firmly believe that paid family leave must be available to new parents and caregivers regardless of their gender, and we commend the Council for recognizing this in the bill.

The Washington Lawyers’ Committee also supports the bill as a small employer in the District.  The Committee currently provides paid parental leave to all of its employees, but it shoulders the cost of this benefit entirely on its own. We would gladly contribute a fraction of our payroll costs to a District-administered public insurance fund that would allow our employees to access income when they need it, while simultaneously permitting us to hire temporary staff to support our team in that employee’s absence, or to divert our limited resources to other needs.

Finally, we note that we were disappointed to learn that self-care is no longer covered by the bill.  Many D.C. workers and families are just one unexpected emergency away from poverty and homelessness, and it is crucial that they also have access to paid leave when a serious health crisis requires arises.  We understand that the most recent draft put forward by your office was a compromise meant to satisfy many competing stakeholders, but we urge you to consider including some provision for self-care in the final version of the bill.

Thank you for your commitment to building a more just city for all residents, including the most vulnerable among us.  Please vote “yes” on the Universal Paid Leave Act.


Jonathan M. Smith
Executive Director

Christine T. Dinan
Staff Attorney


Councilmember Anita Bonds
Councilmember David Grosso
Councilmember Elissa Silverman
Councilmember Robert C. White, Jr.
Councilmember Brianne K. Nadeau
Councilmember Jack Evans
Councilmember Mary M. Cheh
Councilmember Brandon T. Todd
Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie
Councilmember Charles Allen
Councilmember Yvette Alexander
Councilmember LaRuby May
Mayor Muriel Bowser

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