Multiple Bills Mandating Paid Leave Being Considered

Date: March 03, 2021

General Assembly is reviewing a series of bills that will cost small businesses thousands

The Maryland General Assembly is half way through their 90-day legislatlve session and an area of serious concerns for small business is still at the forefront: expanded paid leave.

House Bill 581, House Bill 375, and House Bill 1326 have all been heard by the House Economic Matters Committee and one in particular is garnering a lot of attention.

Legislative leaders have formed a work group for House Bill 581, the so-called “Essential Workers’ Protection Act. Among the most problematic requirements in the bill are:

  • Hazard Pay – employers required to pay workers defined as “essential” an additional $3 per hour in hazard pay
  • Paid Leave – a new paid leave program whereby employers must provide 3 days of bereavement leave and 14 days of sick leave
  • Right to Refuse Work – employees would be able to refuse work they deem hazardous without any clear definition or right by the employer to address potential abuse

NFIB is keeping a close eye on the workgroup as it is scheduled to meet for the second time on Friday, March 5. So far no adjustments have been made that would alter the provisions listed above. NFIB has told legislators repeatedly that small businesses simply do not have the resources available to comply with the bill. Indeed, many would have to make further cuts to staff, increase prices at a time when they are just beginning to get customers back, or worse yet, close their doors for good.

The other legislation, HB375 and HB1326, would mandate similar leave provisions in the form of a payroll tax to fund a new paid leave insurance program and a vast extension of the state’s sick and safe leave law respectively. While small businesses understand the hardships Maryland workers are going through because of the COVID-19 crisis, they too are at the mercy of the financial devastation it has caused.

Please contact your state director if you would like more information about the bills and how to get in contact with your representatives in Annapolis. Mike O’Halloran can be reached at [email protected].

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