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D.C. Universal Paid Family Leave Bill Submitted To Congress, But Changes Are Still Possible

The D.C. Universal Paid Leave Amendment Act of 2016 (the “Act”) has been submitted to Congress for a 30-legislative-day period of review. Presuming that the Act does not get overturned by Congress and the President, it is projected to become law on April 7, 2017. The Act provides employees up to eight (8) weeks of paid leave, funded by a new payroll tax of 0.62% imposed on employers. Even if the Act becomes law, under the current version of the Act, employers would not be subject to the new tax until July 1, 2019, and employees would not be able to access the paid leave benefit until July 1, 2020.

Despite the Act’s recent submission to Congress, efforts are afoot to change the Act. Councilmembers Mary Cheh and Jack Evans introduced one such modification on February 21. This new proposed legislation, the Paid Leave Compensation Act of 2017 (B22-130), would provide the same guarantees for time off but would lower the payroll tax from 0.62% to:

  • 0.20% for large employers, defined as employers “with 50 or more employees or whose annual payroll equals $3.5 million or more”; and

  • 0.40% for small employers, defined as employers “with between 5 and 49 employees and whose annual payroll equals less than $3.5 million.”

Large employers would be required to administer the benefits on their own, while the D.C. government would run the program for small employers.

Also on February 21, Councilmembers Jack Evans and Vincent Gray introduced another alternative bill, the Universal Paid Leave Compensation for Workers Amendment Act of 2017 (B22-133). This proposal would eliminate the creation of a government run program, would require all employers to purchase private insurance that would provide employees with pay during covered time off, and would lower the payroll tax to an amount not to exceed 0.10%. In addition, this payroll tax would not apply to small businesses with fewer than 50 employees.

Whether the Act survives Congressional scrutiny, and how and whether these newly introduced bills, and possibly other forthcoming paid family leave proposals, will impact the Act remains unclear.  Stay tuned for future updates, as we continue to monitor this issue.

© 2017 Proskauer Rose LLP.


About this Author

Guy Brenner, Labor Attorney, Proskauer Rose, arbitration proceedings Lawyer

Guy Brenner is a partner in the Labor & Employment Law Department and co-head of the Non-Compete & Trade Secrets Group. He has extensive experience representing employers in both single-plaintiff and class action matters, as well as in arbitration proceedings. He also regularly assists federal government contractors with the many special employment-related compliance challenges they face.

Guy represents employers in all aspects of employment and labor litigation and counseling, with an emphasis on non-compete and trade secrets issues,...


Ryan H. Hutzler is a law clerk in the Labor & Employment Law Department.

Ryan is a 2015 graduate, with honors, of The George Washington University Law School, where he was on The George Washington Law Review and Moot Court Board. He was the 2014 recipient of the New York State Bar Association’s Albert S. Pergam International Law Writing Competition Award. Ryan was a Proskauer summer associate in 2014 and clerked with the firm throughout his fourth year of law school, working with the labor and employment team in Washington, D.C.