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Should all workers in Maryland have paid sick leave?

Some Maryland residents may know that our state's lawmakers have recently debated both whether the state's minimum wage should be raised and whether the state should require all employers to offer paid sick time off to all workers. While both bills are controversial, a new poll shows that the majority of Maryland voters do support the paid sick time initiative.

Under The Earned Sick and Safe Time Act, employers would have to provide paid sick days based on the number of hours employees worked. One hour of sick leave would be granted to workers for every 30 hours they worked. This would mean that full-time employees would earn 56 hours a year, or seven sick days.

A poll conducted by Hart Research Associates found that 82 percent of Maryland's voters support the sick time proposal. More specifically, 93 percent of Democrats, 64 percent of Republicans and 78 percent of independents support the proposal. So, opinions do seem to be split a bit along party lines, although the overall majority is still in favor of paid sick time.

Business groups, however, have raised concern over this issue. The Maryland Chamber of Commerce, which is against the bill, has said that it would be very difficult for small businesses to comply with a paid sick time mandate.

Under Maryland's current laws, businesses do not have to provide any sick leave, paid or otherwise. However, employers do have to comply with the federal Family and Medical Leave Act, which requires all employers that have at least 50 employees to provide unpaid, job-protected leave to workers for the birth or adoption of a child, the foster placement of a child, or due to a serious medical condition.

Regardless of the future of the paid sick time initiative, workers should be aware of their FMLA rights. In some cases, employers do wrongly deny FMLA leave or retaliate against workers who request leave. Those who have had trouble securing a job-protected FMLA leave may be wise to seek counsel from an experienced employment law attorney.

Source: Southern Maryland Online, "Paid Sick Leave Supported in Poll, but Business Leary," Becca Heller, Feb. 27, 2013

  • For more information about the federal Family and Medical Leave Act and other employment rights in Maryland, please visit our employment law firm's website.

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