HB580 – SB472

Labor and Employment – Maryland Healthy Working Families Act

One of the most controversial bills of 2016 was this legislation, which would mandate small business employers to provide broad sick leave benefits to employees.  The benefits would be paid sick leave for employers with more than 15 employees, and unpaid leave for employers with fewer than 15 employees.  Generally, benefits would be earned at 1 hour for each 30 hours work.

The JLC did not testify on the legislation, although we supported other business groups (e.g. The Maryland Chamber of Commerce and the National Federation of Independent Business) for whom opposing the bill was the top legislative priority.  The bill passed the House and came over to the Senate in the last week of session where a bill hearing was held with only two days to go in the session.  Business organizations had sharpened their arguments by this time and exposed a number of ambiguities and potential, unintended consequences in the bill.  Ultimately, the bill was not brought up for a vote in the Senate Finance Committee, and therefore it was not enacted.  Legislative leaders have vowed to bring the issue back in the next legislative session, and Senate President Mike Miller has even suggested a special session.  The JLC must review its position and determine whether it will take a more active role on this issue in the future.