Business groups are lining up in opposition.
A hearing is scheduled for next week in Annapolis on the Maryland Earned Sick Leave and Safety Act. If it's passed, the legislation would require employers to offer 7 days of paid sick leave to employees.
"On the surface, who could be against making it easier for a mom with a child to take off to take care of the child. But there's a pretty strong down side," says Larry Helminiak, a Carroll County resident and former business owner. He says this bill would make it costly for small companies to operate in Maryland. "I'm naturally against anything raising the cost of doing business and chasing companies out of Maryland," he said Sunday on the "Alex Mooney Show" on WFMD.
Supporters say the legislation is needed to protect low wage workers, such as those waiting tables in restaurants, so they can have time off if they get ill, or to care for a sick family. If they take a day off now because they're ill, supporters say, they lose pay.
The hearing on the bill is scheduled for Wednesday, February 17th, at 1:00 PM before the House Economic Matters Committee. Frederick County Delegate Kelly Schulz (R) is opposed to the legislation. She also agrees that it would be costly to small businesses because they would have to pay an additional 5% per employee if the bill becomes law. "And running dollar to dollar, day to day, a 5% increase in your expenditures is pretty high," she says.
In addition, Schulz says adding more costs for employers is not the way to create jobs in the state. "If our main priority is to create new jobs, and allow the businesses to flourish so they can create those new jobs, this looks like a contradictory action to that," she says.
"What it does is add 56 hours maximum in a year. That's 7 full days," says Helminiak. "It gives everybody in Maryland, every person in Maryland, another 7 days off with pay, like giving somebody two vacations instead of one."
The legislation is sponsored by Baltimore County Delegate John Olszewski (D), who says for many people, three sick days can equal a month's worth of groceries.