Paid fam­ily leave would pro­tect the Dis­trict’s work­ers

It’s time to stop ask­ing how much it would cost and start ask­ing how much it will help.

The Washington Post Sunday - - SUNDAY OPINION - Ben Shal­len­berger, Wash­ing­ton

Re­gard­ing the Oct. 15 ed­i­to­rial “The pai­dleave pipe dream”:

I was di­ag­nosed with acute lym­phoblas­tic leukemia in 2011. As some one in an age range that doesn’t usu­ally deal with this type of can­cer, I was ad­vised to start treat­ment im­me­di­ately. I had to tell my su­per­vi­sor that I needed to take time for this, but I didn’t know how much time I would need. Even though my of­fice pro­vided a gen­er­ous ben­e­fits pack­age that in­cluded va­ca­tion time, sick leave, per­sonal days and more, I blew through it quickly be­cause it was enough to cover only about a month or two of leave.

My treat­ment lasted about six months. This wasn’t the kind of chemo­ther­apy I could take in the morn­ing and show up to work in the af­ter­noon or the fol­low­ing week. My or­deal in­volved 28-day hospi­tal stays, var­i­ous in­fec­tions and com­pli­ca­tions and con­stant mon­i­tor­ing. Af­ter I went through my per­sonal time, I had to sign up for the D.C. Fam­ily and Med­i­cal Leave Act, which al­lows up to 16 weeks of time off with no pay ev­ery two years. Even tak­ing this leave, it was not enough time to com­plete my treat­ment and en­ter re­mis­sion.

I’m a res­i­dent of the Dis­trict. I work here. I live here. I pay taxes here. And I sup­port the Cam­paign for Paid Fam­ily Leave to help D.C. res­i­dents sup­port them­selves and their fam­i­lies. It’s time to stop ask­ing how much it would cost and start ask­ing how much it will help.

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