New law signed in Montgomery County requires paid sick time

WASHINGTON — Starting in October of next year, Montgomery County businesses will have to give up to seven days of paid sick leave to workers.

Businesses with five or fewer workers would have to give up to four paid days off when an employee is sick.

Supporters say there’s momentum to get a statewide bill passed.

The bill-signing ceremony in Silver Spring was attended by U.S. Secretary of Labor Tom Perez, who told a packed auditorium at the Civic Center there that there’s more work to be done.

“Today is a remarkable moment in Montgomery County history and I want to applaud everybody in this room who contributed to that,” Perez said. “I want to say thank you on behalf of the president, but I want to ask for your help. Because today’s moment here that we mark must be part of a movement.”

As he sat to sign the bill into law, Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett pointed out that millions of Americans don’t have the benefits the new local law will provide.

“It’s unfortunate that we do not have it at the national level. It’s unfortunate that we don’t have it at the state level. But here in Montgomery County, we will have it,” Leggett said.

Perez, who served on the county council and was Montgomery County’s first Latino elected to a council seat, jokingly thanked Leggett “for being the first Latino county executive”, an apparent reference to the fact that the bill Leggett was signing would have a significant impact on Latino workers in the county.

Leggett is the first African American elected to serve as Montgomery County Executive.

Perez ended his remarks with a nod to the county where he launched his political career.

“Congratulations, it is an honor to be here, and it is a particular honor to be home, in Montgomery County among remarkable leaders!”

The bill was hotly debated, as businesses cited the cost to employers of providing sick leave. Among the changes made to create a bill that local businesses could live with, was the provision for fewer paid sick days for small employers, and instead of taking effect in October of 2015, the bill won’t go into effect until October of 2016.

The bill, officially called the Sick and Safe Leave Act, also allows paid time off for families dealing with domestic abuse and the need for relocation or subsequent court appearances that can result.

WTOP’s Kate Ryan contributed to this report.

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