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Legal Review: D.C. Paid Family Leave Law Loses Opponent

By employment law attorney Tom Spiggle, who is barred and practices in the state of Virginia, with The Spiggle Law Firm.

A law passed in the District of Columbia in 2016 that required the establishment of a paid family-leave program funded through employer taxes has seemingly lost one of its primary opponents.

D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson, who is in the midst of a reelection campaign, has indicated that he will no longer pursue changes to the law which would have been more employer-friendly.

Mendelson claimed that his decision to drop his attempts at overhauling the law were related to his inability to reach a consensus on how to make the changes, but Mendelson’s challenger, Ed Lazere, claimed that it was because his approach was proving to be a losing issue, and that his delay in implementing the law while he tried to negotiate changes only hurt workers.

The law establishes a program that guarantees to private sector workers eight weeks of paid time off for new parents, six weeks of paid time off to care for an ill relative, and two weeks of paid sick time. The program would be funded by an 0.62 percent tax on employers.

“Paid family leave has become a hotly-debated topic, especially since the 2016 election and the initial push by the President’s daughter, Ivanka Trump, to establish such a program at the federal level,” said Tom Spiggle, a family law attorney with The Spiggle Law Firm, which has an office in D.C. “It is important for people to remember, however, that even though they may not have paid time off, they may be able to take unpaid time off, without fear of losing their jobs, under the Family Medical Leave Act, or FMLA,” said Spiggle.

FMLA is a federal law that allows certain covered individuals who have just experienced the birth or adoption of a child or need to care for a sick family member (two of the most common cases) to request time off from their employer without fear of termination.

FMLA guarantees each covered employee up to 12 weeks per year of unpaid time off. Whether an employee is covered by FMLA depends upon the company they work for, among other criteria.

Spiggle says that even though paid family leave is important, individuals should not forget that they may be entitled to leave without fear of losing their job, and that if they do lose their job, they should make sure that their rights have no been violated. “Not all employees are covered by FMLA, but you should always know your rights.”

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