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.

 

NYC Sick Time Law Now Includes Safe Time; Labor Contract Waiver Still a Non-Sequitur

New York City last week amended its Earned Sick Time Act to allow employees to use accrued time for reasons related to domestic violence. The amendment states that an employee can use accrued safe and sick time for a variety of itemized activities when the employee or a family member has been a victim of a family offense matter, human trafficking, sexual offense or stalking, and adds definitions of each of these terms.  The amendment renames the bill the New York City Safe and Sick Time Law. It is effective  May 7, 2018, which is six months from the day the Mayor signed the bill.

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The amendment caused me to revisit a provision of the NYC law which I have always considered to be an irksome PSL non-sequitur. Section 20-916 allows employers and unions to agree to “expressly” waive all of the provisions of the safe and sick time law as long as the labor contract “provides for a comparable benefit.” “[H]oliday and Sunday time pay at premium rates” is one of the listed examples of a “comparable benefit.”

Where such a wavier exists and the labor contract includes premium pay on holidays and Sundays, bargaining unit employees must still decide between a paycheck and caring for a sick child, and now, between a paycheck and the employee’s or family member’s own safety. Some employers are not even open on holidays or Sundays. Even with those that are, the law does note require that all employees be offered the opportunity to work, i.e., earn premium pay, on any of those days.

“I don’t have any sick or safe time but I have premium time on a holiday and Sundays” seems like a non-sequitur to me.  It reminds me of a conversation between Alice and the Hatter in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland:

“You should learn not to make personal remarks,” Alice said with some severity. “It’s very rude.” The Hatter opened his eyes very wide on hearing this; but all he said was, “Why is a raven like a writing-desk?”

I have posted this entreaty about PSL waivers before (see here and here): Help me understand.