Victory Today for Small Businesses in Washington, DC.

D.C. City Council votes 11-2 to pass Universal Paid Leave Amendment Act 

The DC small business community applauds the City Council for voting 12-1 to pass The Universal Paid Leave Amendment Act of 2015 out of the Committee of the Whole today. The bill, which will provide paid leave for DC workers in a health emergency or for the care of a newborn, will create a city fund through an employer contribution with a 0.62% payroll tax.

“This is a game changer for small businesses. It is a program that is desperately needed for working families and small businesses alike,” said Ethel Taylor, owner of the Doggie Washerette and member of the DMV Small Business Alliance, a Main Street Alliance project. “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.”

While this is a significant step forward in supporting DC families and small business owners, the bill has changed since its initial introduction in October of last year. The original bill, which creates a social insurance pool to fund the program, started with 16 weeks of paid family and medical leave. In this current version, parental leave has been reduced to eight weeks, family leave for medical conditions to six weeks, and personal medical leave to two weeks.  Small business owners in DC will continue to push for further progress. The council will likely hold its second vote on the bill on December 20.  

“I'm excited that UPLA passed its first vote because it means we are closer to small businesses like mine getting paid leave at an affordable rate,” said Doron Petersan, owner of Sticky Fingers Sweets & Eats and FareWell Diner Bakery Bar, and member of the DMV Small Business Alliance. “If voted into law, this bill will help level the playing field for all businesses because, as a small business owner, I will be able to proudly offer this benefit alongside big box stores at a reasonable cost.”

“This is a critical first step toward establishing a pro-business program that will help small business owners and their employees.  We are confident that the Council will vote in favor of the bill during its second reading, and we hope that the Mayor will do what’s best for small business owners and sign the bill into law,” said Michelle Sternthal, Deputy Director of Policy and Government Affairs, for Main Street Alliance.