Proponents have pushed for mandated paid leave for several years, and now a bill is closer than ever before to becoming law in Maryland. Just this morning the Senate voted in favor of the their version of the bill, SB230 in a 29-18 vote. On March 3, the House of Delegates voted 88-51 in favor of the proposal. The Senate’s bill is significantly different form the House of Delegates’ version, so they will need to reach an agreement before the final version can be sent to the Governor. Regardless of the outcome, Governor Hogan spoke out about the legislation calling it “dead on arrival” and promised a veto. Unfortunately both the Senate and House of Delegates passed their versions of the bill with a veto-proof majority, meaning that it’s likely Hogan’s veto will be overturned.
State Director Mike O’Halloran was quoted in the Baltimore Sun voicing support for Hogan’s veto: “The governor knows first hand how difficult it can be to own and operate a small business and his continued dedication to our members is evident in his latest move to ensure that job creators do not suffer under what would be an extremely costly mandate.”
Both the House and Senate bills would require employers with 15 or more employees to offer paid leave. Employers with less than 15 would require those employers to offer unpaid leave. No matter the number of employees, all employers would have to keep detailed records of employee leave accrual and would be subject to enforcement provisions by the Commissioner of Labor and Industry.
The biggest differences the House and Senate will have to reconcile concern the number of days of leave and the definition of a part-time employee. The House version requires employers to offer up to 7 days of paid or unpaid leave. Leave would be extended to anyone who works at least 8 hours per week. The Senate reduced the number of days to five and defines a part-time employee as working an average of 12 hours per week.
NFIB Maryland has been fighting hard against this mandate. Small business owners have spoken out about how it will force them to cut non-mandated benefits (retirement programs, healthcare, etc.), cut hours, eliminate jobs, or nix plans to expand. One NFIB member, Kevin Daly, president and CEO of Turbo Haul, spoke with the Baltimore Sun about how he—like many small businesses—already provides a flexible leave policy for personal issues as well as sickness.
“We work with employees in both cases, with no threat to their job,” he said. “We have found that when we are liberal with giving days off, we have few difficulties with employees abusing the privilege or getting sick often.”
Stay tuned for updates and action alerts on this issue.