D.C. city council approves sick-leave mandate
Washington took another step toward becoming the second U.S. city to require employers to pay for sick leave.
(FORTUNE Small Business) -- The Washington, D.C., city council voted 11-2 last night to approve a bill requiring all employers to grant sick leave to their workers, but the proposal still has hurdles to clear before becoming law.
The Accrued Sick and Safe Leave Act mandates that all businesses within the District provide their employees with leave time, which can be used in cases of illness or domestic abuse or to care for a sick family member. Under the initial proposal, businesses with more than 50 employees would have had to grant seven days of leave, those with 10 or fewer, three days.
A last-minute amendment yesterday by councilmember Muriel Bowser changed the formula to seven days for businesses with 100 or more workers, five days for those with 25 to 99, and three days for those with 24 or fewer. Part-timers would receive pro-rated leave time.
Because the D.C. council requires all but emergency legislation to be approved in two separate votes, the sick leave law faces another vote on March 4. (The council can even choose to wait on final approval until a third vote in April if substantial changes have been made since the initial vote.) If it again passes, Mayor Adrian Fenty has the option of vetoing it; if yesterday's 11-2 margin holds, though, it would easily provide the two-thirds majority necessary to override a veto.
Officials of the D.C. Chamber of Commerce, which had lobbied heavily against the bill, were not immediately available for comment this morning. The D.C. bill, which would be the country's second mandatory sick-leave law, is one of a growing number of actions aimed at expanding paid sick leave.
Following yesterday's vote, chamber president Barbara Lang warned, "Some members of the council do not appreciate businesses and the enormous amount of taxes we pay. We're going to have to figure out how to show them."
All D.C. legislation must be voted on by the U.S. Congress, which by law must occur within 60 days of the mayor's signing. The legislation would then go into effect six months later, meaning D.C. businesses have at least until the end of the year to prepare for the new law.
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