BUSINESS COALITION CONDEMNS HOUSE BILL AS PAID LEAVE DEBATE RETURNS TO ANNAPOLIS

Date: January 23, 2017

 

ANNAPOLIS (January 23, 2017): A statewide coalition of business advocacy groups announced its opposition this week to a mandatory paid leave bill introduced by members of the House. The coalition believes the legislation will have an impact on employers’ ability to hire additional employees and will force employers to comply with an unnecessary mandate.

 

“Among the many issues with the bill, the first is that, yet again, lawmakers are assuming that employees require rescuing from small business employers,” said NFIB Maryland State Director Mike O’Halloran. “We seem to find ourselves often in the place of explaining to legislators that interfering in the day-to-day lives of the small business community only makes matters worse for the employees they are claiming to protect. The reality is that the employees of small businesses are often the greatest asset that a company has, and employers do everything they can to accommodate them, including providing time off when necessary.”

 

The bill mandates that companies with 15 or more employees provide seven days of paid leave a year, while those with fewer than 15 employees are required to provide unpaid days off. Employees 18 or older must work an average of eight hours a week to be eligible for the plan. Penalties for violations of the bill would be more severe than any other workplace regulation enacted in the State. If passed, the bill would make Maryland home to one of the most stringent and onerous paid leave laws in the country.

 

House Bill 1 also fails to address compliance issues employers would face when complying with Montgomery County’s existing paid leave ordinance, which conflicts with provisions of the bill. “Multiple paid leave laws are wholly unworkable and will create chaos, confusion and inadvertent violations,” added O’Halloran.

 

“This bill is yet another unfunded mandate created by lawmakers that seem to be under the misguided impression that they know best and can harmlessly interfere with the day to day operations of free enterprise,” said Cailey Locklair Tolle, president of the Maryland Retailers Association. “At the end of the day, you cannot take sick leave from a job that no longer exists. If lawmakers remain focused on increasing statewide labor regulations, there will be a dramatic reduction in Maryland jobs as employees and employers alike suffer the consequences of the ill-advised actions of our elected officials.”

 

Governor Hogan has previously proposed a form of paid leave that would require employers with 50 or more employees to offer five days of paid time off. In order to qualify, employees must work an average of 30 hours per week. Additionally, under Hogan’s plan, businesses that employ fewer than 50 people and provide at least five days of paid leave would qualify for a tax exemption.

 

“We applaud the governor for introducing legislation that reflects the many concerns that the business community has articulated regarding paid leave,” added Maryland Chamber of Commerce Vice President of Government Affairs Larry Richardson. “While the chairs of the respective labor committees have included the business advocates in the process, we cannot support such a mandate due to the cost that will be imposed on employers. When it comes to improving our overall business climate, the legislature’s most recent version of the mandatory paid leave bill is a step in the wrong direction.”

 

“Hiring or retaining good employees is always a priority for small business owners, and that is why those that can afford to offer a paid leave policy as part of a benefits package already do,” concluded O’Halloran. “Mandating an unaffordable policy will do nothing but lead to layoffs or a reduction in hours. This bill is anything but a job creator.”

 

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The Maryland business coalition is a statewide coalition of employers, and business groups focused on protecting and advancing the priorities of the State’s employers and their employees. The coalition was formed out of mutual concern about policies introduced by the General Assembly having an impact on Maryland employers and their ability to provide for their employees and customers. The coalition represents over 80,000 businesses in Maryland that employ more than 1,000,000 people. The coalition includes the following:

 

Associated Builders and Contractors

Maryland Chamber of Commerce

Maryland Motor Truck Association

Maryland Retailers Association

Maryland Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM)

Mid-Atlantic Petroleum Distributors Association

National Federation of Independent Business

Restaurant Association of Maryland

WMDA Service Station and Automotive Repair Association

 

 

 

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