Mandatory Paid Sick Leave Law is Now on the Books in Maryland

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Photo by Kevin Galens, via Flickr

Small firms in Maryland with at least 15 employees are now required to offer them paid sick leave under a new law enacted yesterday.

The legislation, originally proposed by Del. Luke Clippinger (D-Baltimore) during the 2017 legislative session, requires firms of that size to give full-timers five days of paid sick leave each year. Part-timers can also accrue sick leave, and smaller businesses must now allow employees to accrue unpaid sick leave as well.

The General Assembly approved the bill last spring, but Gov. Larry Hogan vetoed it, saying the 15-employee cutoff was too low, and would hurt the budget lines of merchants across the state who couldn’t afford to offer paid sick leave to employees. The General Assembly overrode his veto two days after this year’s legislative session began, which meant the new law would take effect within 30 days.

But last week, state senators mounted a push to delay the new law’s implementation in an attempt to give small firms until July to prepare for the new payroll costs. The Senate voted 28-16 last Wednesday to advance a bill that would have done just that, but the House of Delegates never took it up. The new law thus took effect on Sunday.

Its enactment caps six years of attempts by legislators to pass a bill that would guarantee workers paid sick leave. In a February 2017 Goucher Poll, 80 percent of Marylanders said they supported a law that would provide such benefits to business with at least 15 employees.

Hogan has now redirected his attention on sick leave to his bill that would offer tax credits to small businesses “to help with compliance costs” with the new law. The measure, which hasn’t left committee, would offer up to $1,000 per employee to business with fewer than 50 workers to help them pay for the new sick leave benefits.

Ethan McLeod
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