Will mandatory sick leave become a reality in 2017?

With the dawning of a new year, Maryland businesses face the prospect of a “common sense” measure that could become law. In December, Governor Larry Hogan announced a proposal to require paid sick leave, a bill that failed to pass the legislature in the past.

Current legislation attempts to find middle ground between the needs of employees and the state’s small businesses. However, initial opposition exists.

A Tale Of Two Sick Leave Plans

Under the Republican governor’s plan, Maryland businesses employing 50 or more people would be required to offer paid sick leave of at least 40 hours a year. The proposal would also allow employees to roll over a maximum of 40 hours annually.

Maryland businesses with fewer than 50 employees would be eligible for tax relief incentives if they voluntarily offered the same paid sick leave. The bill also contains an exemption that protects seasonal industries that provide employment for fewer than 120 days in a full year.

The proposal favored by the Republicans has the backing of the National Federation of Independent Business. However, Democrats in the General Assembly question whether the proposal goes far enough to win support.

Sen. Thomas "Mac" Middleton, chair of the Senate Finance Committee, and other legislators in his party advocate a similar bill. Their legislation would expand mandatory sick leave to businesses that staff 15 or more employees

Striking a balance between the impact on a business’ bottom line and sick workers “toughing it out” to make ends meet still eludes both sides.

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