D.C. Small Businesses Win Big With Paid Leave

This is a game-changer for D.C. small businesses. 

The D.C. small business community scored a huge win today, with the City Council’s final vote of 9-4 to pass the Universal Paid Leave Amendment Act (UPLA). This comprehensive paid family and medical leave bill will guarantee about 530,000 business owners and their employees the ability to care for themselves or their loved ones without risking financial ruin. The program will be funded through a nominal employer payroll contribution of 0.62% per employee.

“This is a game-changer for small businesses. This paid family leave program is desperately needed for working families and small businesses alike,” said Ethel Taylor, the owner of the Doggie Washerette in D.C. “As a small business owner, if I'd had access to a program like this when my husband presented with stage 4 cancer, my business would have had the resources and staffing needed to continue to grow. This bill is good business for small businesses and for the District.”

The victory for D.C.’s small business community is a long time coming. For over a year, small business owners have joined advocates in supporting this economy-boosting legislation and rejecting attempts to impose harmful amendments. Most recently, Main Street Alliance members helped defeat an amendment which would have eliminated the insurance pool, shifting the full responsibility for absorbing the cost of employees’ paid leave onto the employer.

“I'm excited that the UPLA passed because it means small businesses like mine can finally get paid leave at an affordable rate,” said Doron Petersan, the owner of Sticky Fingers Sweets & Eats and FareWell Diner Bakery Bar, both in D.C. “If signed into law, this bill will help level the playing field for all businesses. Small business owners like me will now be able to proudly offer this benefit alongside big box stores at a reasonable cost.”

Despite this victory, the United States is still one of the only major countries in the world without a national paid family and medical leave program. Congress should follow the lead of California, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island and now Washington D.C., and create a federal paid leave standard that supports small business owners and their communities.