Mandatory Paid Leave - Likely to Pass this Year - Differs from Montgomery County
The Maryland General Assembly will likely pass a mandatory paid leave law that is different from the law already in place in Montgomery County. On Friday, the Senate passed its version of the bill on "second requires employers having 15 or more employees to provide paid leave; those having fewer must provide unpaid leave. The Montgomery County law applies to all employers, no matter the number of staff. The state bill exempts temporary agencies and some home health agencies.
The state bill, as currently in the Senate, stipulates that any employee who regularly works 12 hours a week or more must accrue 1 hour of sick leave for every 30 hours worked, up to 40 hours (5 days) per year of paid leave. The Montgomery County law requires employers to give employees up to 56 hours (7 days) of sick leave each year. The original state bill mirrored County law on this, but at the end of the Senate Finance Committee hearing on the bill, Montgomery County Senator Brian Feldman offered the successful amendment that made the State bill less onerous than what exists in Montgomery County, and the full Senate lowered the bar even further. While Feldman also offered an amendment that will allow Montgomery County to change its current law, that amendment did not stipulate that any changes must be made in order to comply with the state law.
A major challenge going forward will be managing the differences between the two laws.
One Maryland, One Standard for Employment Laws - Defeated in Committee
Prince George's Democratic Delegate Dereck Davis had introduced legislation that would have set a statewide standard for all employment laws. Delegate Davis, who had served on the Augustine Commission, gained an understanding of the importance of unifying requirements on businesses throughout the state. GSSCC and other business groups testified in support of this bill. Unfortunately, the legislation was voted down in committee where the Montgomery County Delegates (Charles Barcley, Bill Frick, Ben Kramer, and Jeff Waldstreicher) voted against it.
Fight for $15 - House Hearing Last Week; Senate Scheduled for This Week
Delegate Jeff Waldstreicher and Senator Rich Madaleno, both from Montgomery County's District 18, are championing legislation that would increase the statewide minimum wage to $15 per hour for all employees, including tipped wage earners. There are significant differences between this bill and the one recently vetoed in Montgomery County. The state proposal stretches the timing out to 2022 for large businesses and 2023 for small businesses. However, the state bill also includes tipped wage workers and does not pre-empt local jurisdictions from acting on their own. How this will impact youth employment, and opportunities for inexperienced and unskilled workers is not clear. Sources indicate that the General Assembly is not likely to move forward to enact a minimum wage bill this year, but the Montgomery County Council is committed moving forward with legislation to continue raising our local minimum wage faster and further than the state.
State Overtime Bill Defeated in Committee
Legislation that would have greatly expanded number of Maryland employees required to receive overtime pay (similar to the Federal Overtime Regulation that was successfully challenged in court last year) was defeated in the Senate Finance Committee. Montgomery County Senators Cheryl Kagan and Roger Manno were co-sponsors of the Senate bill. A similar bill is in the House and has not yet moved. Montgomery County Delegates Al Carr, Arianna Kelly, Marc Korman, David Moon, Andrew Platt, Kirill Reznik, and Shane Robinson co-sponsored a similar bill in the House.