Maryland Employers and Employees Weigh In On Sick Leave Bill - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Maryland Employers and Employees Weigh In On Sick Leave Bill

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 CAMBRIDGE, Md.- In last month's state of the union address, President Barack Obama said he wanted to make it mandatory for all states to provide seven days of sick leave a year to their employees.  This has been attempted for the past two years in Annapolis.  The bill has been submitted again this year and it's getting some traction.

As it stands today in Maryland, businesses are not required to give their employees sick time, but that could be changing in the near future.  A bill in Annapolis would make it mandatory for all businesses to give their full time employees 1 hour of sick time for every 30 hours worked.

Krista Wheatley, a server at Jimmy & Sooks in Cambridge, sees it as a step forward.

"We don't have that kind of benefit right now, so to be allowed seven days out of the year to call out sick and then still get paid for it would be kind of beneficial to us I think," said Wheatley.

While employees are supportive of the initiative, employers are concerned that the time could be abused.

"It goes to immediate family as well.  People will use excuses to not work, I've seen it, it happens a lot, so I don't think it should be put into play," said Shane Walker, operations manager at MTS Broadcasting.
Wheatley says that may be the case in some instances, but not all.

"I think with everything there are those few people that like to abuse anything that's given to them, especially benefits.  But for those of us that don't abuse these kinds of benefits, we would use them sparingly, I know I would anyway," said Wheatley.

Walker says his company isn't opposed to sick time, they have a 30 day policy.  But his larger concern is the damage it could do to smaller companies.

"This is going to cost companies.  It's going to cost companies money.  It could cause them, so they don't have to abide by this mandate, to remove an employee from their staff," said Walker.

Or pass the cost along to consumers he believes.

JT Merryweather at Realerevival Brewing sees it both ways.

"When we get to 10 full time employees, that kind of forces my hand so yeah I might be able to offer you more sick days, but I won't be able to offer you as much in hourly compensation or as much of a salary as you would like," said Merryweather.

The Institute for Women's Policy Research says the move will save the state $13 million annually.

As it's written, for businesses with 10 or more employees, the 7 days of sick leave would be paid.  Less than 10 employees, the time is still required, but it is unpaid.  The time would start accruing three months after the employee's start date.

If passed, the change would be implemented starting October 1, 2015.
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