Paid family and medical leave program passes in Maryland House

Maryland’s House of Delegates voted to approve a bill that would create a paid family and medical leave program statewide Wednesday, pushing the legislation one step closer to advancing out of the Maryland General Assembly.

A different version of the bill already passed in the state Senate, so the legislation must head back to the Senate for further consideration.

If it passes, Maryland would join D.C. and nine states that offer paid family leave.

“The goal is to make sure that individuals who suffer family tragedies or have a child are covered and have some paid leave and don’t have to decide between caring for their loved ones and going to work,” argued Del. C.T. Wilson, D-Charles.

Under the Time to Care Act, individuals would be provided up to 12 weeks of paid leave for “specified personal and family circumstances.”

Such circumstances could include dealing with a serious health condition, caring for a family member who is sick and caring for “a newborn child or a child newly placed for adoption.”

The program would be implemented by Maryland’s labor department and would be funded through contributions by both employers and employees. However, it is not yet clear exactly how much those contributions would be. Lawmakers would determine that through a cost analysis from the labor department.

“That doesn’t seem to be fiscally sound,” argued Del. April R. Rose, R-Carroll. “That would be like going out and buying a car and saying ‘you tell me how much it costs later and I’ll just sign the check.'”

House Minority Leader Jason C. Buckel, a Republican from Allegany County, raised concerns about small businesses struggling to find replacements for workers who take time off.

“There are certain realities of running a for-profit business,” Buckel said. “We can’t make the world perfect.”

Benefits would kick in for Marylanders in 2025.

In order to be covered, an employee would need to work at least 680 hours over a 12-month period.

“The weekly benefit, which is based on an individual’s average weekly wage, ranges from $50 to a $1,000 cap that is indexed to inflation,” according to the legislation.

Nick Iannelli

Nick Iannelli can be heard covering developing and breaking news stories on WTOP.

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