Wednesday, October 7, 2015

D.C. paid leave bill stands up for workers

Dignity in the workplace is sorely lacking for many, especially those in low-wage jobs. That's why it's refreshing to see some elected officials fighting to change it, one piece of legislation at a time.

A new measure introduced yesterday in the nation's capital would grant 16 weeks of paid leave to nearly all part- and full-time employees in Washington, D.C. It would allow time to be taken to bond with an infant or adopted child, recover from sickness, recuperate from a military deployment or care for a sick family member.

As The Washington Post wrote:
The broad new worker benefit, enthusiastically supported by the Obama administration, would be paid from a fund created by a new tax on D.C. employers. The benefit would dwarf family-leave assistance in all 50 states and would also mark a step toward benefits offered by most European countries, where parents can take as much as a year of paid time off following the birth of a child.
America's lack of paid leave is a major mark against this country's employment system. While other nations give upwards of a year off, for example, for parental leave, only three states have enacted paid leave laws in the last decade. And at its best, it is limited to six weeks of partial paid leave.

At a time when there is increased focus on equal pay for women, the paid leave component cannot be left out. After all, policies like these will keep more women in the workforce and help fight income inequality. It also will level the playing field for those attempting to advance on the job.

Elected officials have sided often with the corporate class. So it's good to see one local government challenge the status quo and watch out for its residents. Here's hoping others will choose to do the same.