Good afternoon, Chair Silverman and members of the committee. My name is Dan Mauer and I live in Ward 1. I am a member of Jews United for Justice and actively participate in JUFJ’s Economic Justice working group. Thank you for the opportunity to testify today.
I am here to speak about the importance of strong and successful implementation of D.C.’s expanded paid family leave program. This is now my third time testifying before the council about this critical program, and some of you no doubt will recall the hearing at which I first testified before the law was enacted (though probably not my own testimony several hours in), when well over a hundred parents, caregivers, medically vulnerable people and others spoke about why implementing paid family and medical leave is so important.
This program is important to me in no small part because of the Jewish values that I share with my fellow JUFJ members. Our Jewish texts make clear the principle that family comes first, which of course means that we must be able to do our part to care for a relative or welcome a baby, yet many of our fellow residents in the District can’t afford to take unpaid leave to do this. The Jewish sage Hillel taught that we can’t separate ourselves from our community and that we all have a responsibility for each other’s wellbeing.
I have been fortunate in that I have not yet had to take family or medical leave during my working life. Yet, as a newlywed Type 1 diabetic whose retired parents live just 20 short minutes away, it is frankly not hard to imagine lots of different scenarios in which that circumstance might arise.
Luckily, as someone who works in the labor movement, we are already afforded fair benefits to care for ourselves and our families. But that is certainly not true for everyone, and I know that some of the most at-risk members of our community are the very same people whose employers have not traditionally afforded them the benefits they deserve.
That is, of course, why I am so grateful that D.C. will be expanding the paid leave program to provide up to 12 weeks of paid leave for parental, medical, and family caregiving needs and up to 2 weeks of pre-natal leave. I hope that DOES will do enough outreach to the public so that people will know about these expanded benefits. I am, however, disappointed that the Mayor’s proposed budget delays implementation of these expanded benefits from July 1st to October 1st, and uses money in the Paid Leave Fund to pay for other things.
I was very glad to see that the Mayor’s budget makes the temporary elimination of the 7 day waiting period permanent. The waiting period creates difficulties especially for the most vulnerable people who most urgently need the funds and I believe that eliminating it permanently will make the program function as equitably as the Council intended in creating the program.
I am very proud that the Council has made the paid family and medical leave program a priority, and I urge you to continue to do so, most immediately by permanently eliminating the 7 day waiting period. Thank you again for the opportunity to testify and I look forward to any questions that you may have.