Governor Larry Hogan has announced plans to introduce legislation in the upcoming session of the Maryland General Assembly to provide common sense, balanced paid sick leave benefits that have the potential to cover nearly all working Marylanders without placing an unmanageable burden on job creators. During his remarks at a State House press conference, the governor reaffirmed his commitment to common sense policies that will make Maryland a more business-friendly state while ensuring a strong and healthy workforce.
“For the last few years, there has been a great deal of discussion and debate around the issue of paid sick leave in Maryland,” said Governor Hogan. “While all of us agree that more workers need sick leave in Maryland, it would be irresponsible to put a law on the books that unfairly penalizes our state’s job creators. It is clear that, in order to move forward, we must strike a balance between the needs of Maryland’s employees while not hurting our small businesses and continuing to foster a more business-friendly climate in our state.
“A strong majority of Marylanders want to see the state address this issue in a common sense way that benefits our workers while also protecting our small business job creators. We look forward to working with legislators on both sides of the aisle to reach an agreement on a balanced, fair, and common sense approach to paid sick leave.”
The Hogan administration’s proposal contains important provisions to protect Maryland’s small business community. Businesses with 50 or more employees will be required to offer paid sick leave totaling at least 40 hours per year, with the ability for employees to roll over a maximum of 40 hours each year. The proposal also calls for part-time employees to be covered after a minimum of 30 working hours. If a company already has a general leave policy that meets these minimum requirements, the state will not interfere. In addition, the state will honor existing collective bargaining agreements with unions. The 50-employee threshold matches current federal standards under the Family Medical Leave Act and the Affordable Care Act.
Maryland small business job creators with fewer than 50 employees that choose to offer paid sick leave will be eligible for tax relief incentives closely modeled after the top recommendation of the Augustine Commission, a bipartisan panel that identified strategies to improve Maryland’s business climate. These small business owners will be able to exempt the first $20,000 of their income from taxes. The legislation will also provide protection for seasonal industries by exempting workers employed for less than 120 days in a 12-month period.
Governor Hogan is committed to giving Maryland workers the support they need without interfering with the policies of small businesses or putting jobs at risk. The Hogan administration’s common sense proposal would institute a fair and flexible statewide policy that would apply to all 24 jurisdictions and supersede existing policies to ensure consistency and ease of compliance for job creators across the state.