WASHINGTON — The Maryland House of Delegates will vote Friday on a hotly-debated bill that would force businesses across the state to offer paid time off to their employees.
The legislation would require businesses with 15 or more employees to have a “sick and safe leave” policy, offering seven paid days off each year. Companies with fewer than 15 employees would need to offer unpaid sick leave.
Under the bill, employers must allow workers to use their earned time off to care for a mental or physical illness, to help an ill or injured family member or to “obtain preventive medical care for the employee or employee’s family member.”
The bill would not apply to employees who regularly work less than eight hours a week or to individuals younger than age 18.
“This legislation is the product of many years of hard work,” Democratic Del. Luke Clippinger, the bill’s sponsor, told the House Economic Matters Committee during a hearing last month.
Maryland’s General Assembly came very close to passing sick leave legislation last year.
“I’ve spoken to hundreds of supporters and opponents of this bill to hear their concerns,” Clippinger said. “Marylanders are absolutely ready for us to pass earned sick leave.”
Delegates gave the bill initial approval Wednesday after Republican lawmakers tried, unsuccessfully, to amend the legislation to look more like an alternative proposal that was put forward by Republican Gov. Larry Hogan.
Hogan’s bill would force businesses with 50 or more employees to offer five days of paid time off “that can be used for any reason.” Employers with 49 or fewer employees would be eligible for a tax break if they chose to provide all of their workers with paid leave.
Even if the House passes its bill Friday, the legislation must still clear the state Senate, where it is currently being considered by the Finance Committee.
D.C. and seven states — Arizona, California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Oregon, Vermont and Washington — have laws that require paid sick leave.