Maryland General Assembly at Fork in Road to Paid Sick Leave

When you come to a fork in the road, take it, said the immortal philosopher Yogi Berra. The Maryland General Assembly is at a fork in the road that could lead to  Maryland’s becoming the ninth state to enact a paid sick leave law.

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One fork is the veto road. The General Assembly could try to override Governor Larry Hogan’s veto of the Maryland Healthy Working Families Act , which the legislature had passed in May. That bill would have required employers with 15 or more employees to allow employees to accrue up to forty hours of earned paid sick and safe leave annually at the rate of one hour of leave for each thirty hours worked. Each chamber of the General Assembly had passed the bill with enough votes to override a veto, but barely so.

In enacting its own bill last Spring, the General Assembly rejected the governor’s proposed bill, the The Common Sense Paid Leave Act,. That bill would have required employers with 50 or more employees to provide employees up to forty hours of leave which employees may use for any reason.

The other fork is the compromise road. Governor Hogan recently proposed the Paid Leave Compromise Act, which would scale down the size of the employer required to provide paid leave from fifty employees in 2018, to forty employees in 2019, to 25 employees in 2020 and thereafter.  The Compromise Act would allow employees to use accrued time for any reason. To that extent, the Compromise Paid Leave Act, like the Common Sense Paid Leave Act, goes where no leave law has gone before. There are other differences between the Compromise Act and the General Assembly’s bill but the size of the employer and the reasons for which an employee can use accrued time seem to be the most significant.

The General Assembly will be at the fork in the paid sick leave road when it convenes in January. If it wants the state to be the ninth to enact a paid sick leave law, it must decide which road to take. Otherwise, to paraphrase the philosopher Berra, if they don’t know where they are going, they might end up someplace else.