Maryland lawmakers commit to passing paid family and medical leave legislation this year

Maryland is on its way to join other states in requiring paid family and medical leave, according to Senate Democrats announcing their commitment to pass the legislation this session.

What’s referred to as the Time to Care Act of 2022, designated as Senate Bill 0275, would establish the Family Medical Leave Insurance Program in the Maryland Department of Labor.

Some of the reasons people typically take paid family leave include the birth or adoption of a child, to care for a family member with a serious health condition, or to prepare for a military deployment. Most working people in the U.S. don’t have paid family leave through their jobs.

“Studies show that companies actually save money and maintain costs by retaining employees when they implement or expand paid family leave benefits,” said Maryland Sen. Shelly Hettleman, D-Baltimore County.

“Maryland needs to attract and retain the best workforce it can, which is only possible if we offer a high quality of life with competitive benefits from employers,” she said.

The Time to Care coalition has identified principles it believes should be part of the bill, such as providing at least 12 weeks of paid leave and protection against job loss if someone needs to utilize the paid leave.

“We all believe that nobody should have to choose between the family they love and the paycheck they need,” said coalition member Ricarra Jones, who is the political director of 1199SEIU Healthcare Workers East.

“It must cover all working people and apply equally regardless of gender and reflect an inclusive definition of family,” Ricarra said. “It should be cost effective for workers, employers and the government. With employers contributing along with employees.”

Referring to proposals in prior sessions that failed, a reporter attending Thursday’s news conference asked the president of Maryland’s Senate why the measure hasn’t passed sooner.

Bill Ferguson’s adamant response drew laughter and clapping from those assembled.

“It’s going to pass this year,” Ferguson said.

As the bill stands now, if it passes, employers and workers would begin contributing to the insurance fund for benefits beginning Jan. 1, 2023.

Kristi King

Kristi King is a veteran reporter who has been working in the WTOP newsroom since 1990. She covers everything from breaking news to consumer concerns and the latest medical developments.

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