Legislators Call For Revisions To Md. Healthy Working Families Act

The measure was passed in the 2017 General Assembly, but vetoed by the Governor.


Frederick, Md (KM). Some changes need to be made in the sick leave bill passed by the 2017 Maryland General Assembly. That’s according to Frederick County Delegate Kathy Afzali (R) who was one of 12 women legislators who sent a letter sent to State Senate President Mike Miller and House of Delegates Speaker Michael Busch.

The Maryland Healthy Working Families Act was approved by the Legislature during its 2017 session. It requires employers with 15 or more workers to provide their workforce with paid sick leave. The legislation was vetoed by the Governor, but lawmakers are expected to hold a vote to override the veto when the General Assembly convenes in January, 2018.

Afzali says the bill, if passed, could adversely affect women in the workplace. “The wording of the bill, when we look into it further, indicates that employers have to ask and women have to reveal why they are skipping work. Unfortunately, it has unintended consequences,” says Afzali.

She continues that it would be hurtful to women who have been victims of domestic violence of sexual assault. “As with a lot that happens in Annapolis, we start out with good intentions and that is to help families get paid sick leave. But what  this will do is it will force women who are abused or sexually assaulted to talk about this very personal issue with their employer to get the paid sick leave,” says Afzali.

And this could have consequences for an employer, she says. “It puts liability on to the company because then the employer, if he doesn’t report it, if he doesn’t go to the police or some kind of authority, and something were to happen to that employee, then the company could be held liable,” says Afzali.

The letter urges Senate President Miller and Speaker Busch to let legislators to rework the legislation. “Let;’s get a better bill and something we can work together on,” says Afzali.

“This is not a partisan issue,” she says. :”This is an issue that will affect vulnerable women and women who have been victimized. And we don’t want to revictimize those women. We want to make sure that they have the privacy that they need. That they get the sick time and the paid sick leave that they deserve. But they don’t have reveal deeply personal and sensitive information to an employer.”


By Kevin McManus