The District of Columbia will boost its paid family and medical leave program to offer a maximum of 12 weeks of leave annually, as well as reducing the payroll tax rate that employers will pay.
The expansion resulted from a review of the paid leave program finances by D.C.’s Chief Financial Officer, who concluded that the program would have a nearly $500 million surplus this year at the current 8-week benefit level. The program began paying benefits in July 2020 and currently provides for 8 weeks of parental leave, 6 weeks for other family-related and personal medical leave, and 2 weeks of prenatal leave. The employer tax rate will be cut to 0.26% of wages, from the current rate of 0.62%.
Nine states, other than D.C., have enacted paid family and medical leave funded through payroll taxes, most recently including Oregon and Colorado. During Tuesday’s State of the Union address, President Biden renewed his call for a national paid family and medical leave mandate. Currently, there is a Democratically-backed federal proposal that was reduced to four weeks of annual leave before passing in the House in November 2021. That tax and spending package is stalled before the Senate.