November 5, 2015 By: Rebecca Gale
Following the path of D.C.’s ambitious proposed paid leave policy, federal workers who live in Maryland might also see a change to their paid leave benefits. Maryland Del. Ariana Kelly, a Democrat, plans to introduce legislation in January to allow federal workers who work in D.C. and live in Maryland to opt-in to a state insurance pool and receive up to 12 weeks of paid leave benefits.
The D.C. Council recently unveiled paid leave legislation that would provide up to 16 weeks of paid leave for Washington, D.C., residents, including those who work for the federal government. Non-residents who work for private companies based in D.C. would also be covered, but federal workers who live in Maryland, Virginia or another state would not. Because of this, two employees working side-by-side in the same federal office could wind up with wildly diverging paid leave plans.
Kelly said the opt-in program established under her bill would be administratively easier than setting up a regional partnership with D.C. She has been working with D.C. Councilmember David Grosso’s office to address the gap in paid leave policies offered to federal workers who are Maryland residents.
Unlike the proposed Maryland law, the D.C. legislation does not include an opt-in option for federal workers who are District residents. All District residents would be covered by D.C.’s proposed paid leave legislation; only those who are self-employed would have the option to “opt-out.”
The opt-in clause for federal workers may be economically feasible in Maryland because a smaller percentage of the state’s population works for the federal government as compared to D.C. Twenty-seven percent of the D.C. workforce works for the federal government, compared to 5.5 percent of the Maryland workforce, according to state-by-state data compiled by Governing.com.
A spokesperson from Grosso’s office confirmed it has been sharing data and providing briefings with representatives from Maryland, but that no one had reached out yet from Virginia.
Kelly had introduced a previous version of the legislation in the 2015 legislative session, but explained that more time was needed to study possible usage and program costs and designs.