Quote of the Day:

The District would become the most generous place in the country for a worker to take time off after giving birth or to care for a dying parent under a measure supported by a majority of the D.C. Council.

–Washington Post

The unemployment rate in Washington, D.C. as of August of this year was 6.8 percent–one of the highest in the country, notable for being higher than that of perennial economic last place winner Mississippi (6.3 percent).  

Crime rates in the District are also high and rising–the Washington Post reported in June that the homicide rate was up twenty percent. And so what is our City Council doing to make the District a more livable place with more jobs for citizens?

Well, here is what–the City Council is on the verge of passing a paid leave law that would give sixteen weeks of paid leave, the broadest benefit in the U.S.  The leave would be supported by a tax on District businesses which would make it even harder to hire people but never mind that: it has the support of the Obama administration, which has a pathetic record of job-creation nationwide.

The Washington Post reports:

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. …

The District would offer 16 weeks and unprecedented coverage for workers’ salaries and hourly wages: 100 percent of pay for those making up to $52,000 a year.

Employees who earn more than that would be eligible for $1,000 a week plus 50 percent of their additional income, up to a maximum of $3,000 per week.

Almost all D.C. employees would be eligible. The only ones excluded would be residents of Maryland and Virginia who work for the federal government, because the city could not compel it to participate. District employees of the federal government and federal contractors could opt into the system and pay a small fee to participate.

We at IWF would like for everybody to have generous paid leave for family emergencies, but at the same time we recognize that mandatory, paid leave policies can backfire, creating disadvantages for many workers, especially women. The draconian DC law would make it hard on businesses which would likely have to find (and pay) temporary workers to replace the on-leave worker.

We have applauded presidential hopeful Senator Marco Rubio for encouraging businesses to offer paid leave but realizing the pitfalls of forcing them to do so, even if they can't afford to do so. Rubio supports a twenty-five percent non-refundable tax credit for businesses that provide four to twelve weeks of paid leave.

Most businesses do in face offer paid sick leave, but, as an IWF Policy Focus on paid leave makes clear, those that do not will face new costs and must find a way to meet them. I urge you to read the Policy Focus. The law will undoubtedly pass in the DC Council, and the results could be a bump in the unemployment rate. Here's the thing about paid leave: to get paid leave, you have to have a job.