We know D.C. Get our free newsletter to stay in the know.

On a busy day for the D.C. Council—during its first legislative session of the new year—councilmembers introduced two bills that could boost protections for District workers.

The first, proposed by At-Large Councilmember Vincent Orange and co-sponsored by nine others on Tuesday, would amend a 2014 law requiring employers to make “reasonable accommodations” for pregnant women to include women affected by “pre-birth complications.” These conditions can involve a mother’s health, a baby’s health, or both, though the amendment doesn’t go into detail about what they typically entail. It does, however, forbid employers from taking any “adverse action against an employee who has been absent from work as a result of a pregnancy related condition.” The Department of Employment Services would enforce the amendment as it does the existing law: with civil penalties for violations in thousands of dollars.

The second, co-introduced by nearly half the body—Councilmembers Elissa Silverman, Charles Allen, Mary Cheh, Brianne Nadeau, LaRuby May, and Kenyan McDuffie—would amend a 2006 act that requires certain government contractors to pay their employees “no less than the living wage” to additionally cover entities receiving District tax benefits, and to clarify when subcontractors are implicated. The amendment adds a definition of “tax benefit” to the earlier act as an “exemption, abatement, credit, or any other reduced tax obligation” provided by D.C. after the bill’s effective date.

“D.C. tax dollars should not be used to create poverty-wage jobs,” Silverman said in introducing the bill. “Instead, our precious tax dollars should be used to support residents in good-paying jobs. The legislation I’m introducing today would require recipients of D.C. government tax benefits to pay a living wage, now at $13.84 and adjusted for inflation each year. This will fill in some gaps in our current law” which exempt nearly $46 million annually.

It would apply to “recipients of contracts or government assistance” who earn $100,000 or more, and certain subcontractors who earn at least $15,000.

Photo by Darrow Montgomery