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Employment Issues Dominate Legislative Agendas in Maryland and the District

Wed, Jan 17, 2018

Employment issues continue to dominate the legislative agendas in both Maryland and the District. The Maryland General Assembly began its 90-day legislative session last week with an override of Governor Hogan’s veto of the state’s paid leave bill. Here’s a quick rundown of what to expect:

MARYLAND

Maryland Healthy Working Families Act

The Maryland Healthy Working Families Act is scheduled to take effect February 11, 2018. Under the measure, businesses with more than 15 employees must provide up to five days of paid sick leave. There is an effort underway by Senator Mac Middleton to extend the deadline for implementation from 30 to 90 days. Governor Hogan signed an Executive Order on Monday, creating a state office to assist small businesses with implementation of the law. Click here for a breakdown of what the paid leave law includes.

Under the law, sick and safe leave may be used for mental of physical illness or injury, preventive care, maternity/paternity leave, or if the absence from work is due to domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking against the employee or the employee’s family member, and the leave is being used for medical or mental health attention, service from a victim’s services organization, utilization of legal services or attendance at legal proceedings, or temporary relocation related to domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking.

Tax Credits – Paid Leave

Governor Hogan has introduced a bill to provide tax credits for businesses with fewer than 50 employees that provide paid leave benefits.

Minimum Wage Increase

Senator Madaleno and Delegate Hettleman plan to introduce a bill to raise the state’s minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2023. Maryland’s minimum wage is set to increase from $9.25 to $10.10 an hour on July 1, 2018.

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA

Universal Paid Leave

The D.C. Council is considering five bills that would modify the Universal Paid Leave Act passed a year ago. Under the program, individuals employed in the District would be eligible for up to eight weeks of paid parental leave, six weeks of family leave and two weeks of medical leave, all financed by a 0.62 percent payroll tax paid by employers. The proposed bills keep the essential benefits, while easing the tax burden on businesses and avoiding the creation of a large new District bureaucracy to oversee the benefits. The Council has not indicated when action will be taken on the proposed bills.

Salary History Ban

A bill under consideration would bar District employers from asking about salary history before making a job offer. The bill is aimed at eliminating differences in pay between men and women. The bill is similar to legislation enacted in other jurisdictions, including Massachusetts, which became the first state to prohibit employers from requiring a job candidate’s salary history. New York City’s Mayor signed an executive order making it illegal for city agencies to require salary history in hiring.