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By:  Andrew Will, Esquire

As the 2022 Maryland Legislative Session continues, employers should keep an eye on bills prioritized by the General Assembly. One such bill is the Time to Care Act, proposed by Senator Antonio Hayes and Delegate Kris Valderrama.

The bill envisions a Family and Medical Leave Insurance Program similar to those adopted by nine other states—including California, New York, New Jersey—as well as Washington, D.C. In effect, the program would enable part-time and full-time employees to take 12 weeks of paid leave after childbirth or to care for themselves or a family member with serious health issues.

Employees would make weekly contributions to a public insurance fund, matched by their employers. This shared cost would not exceed 0.75% of an employee’s wages. And, when needed, an employee could submit a request to draw funds from the pool. Payouts would consist of partial wage replacements between $50 and $1,000 a week. According to advocates, the average weekly contribution would be $7.04, shared equally between the employee and employer.

Paid family and medical leave has been a topic of robust debate. Similar Maryland proposals have died in committee in years past. Opponents of paid leave programs argue that such legislation will harm small businesses and poses an opportunity for abuse by employees. The bill’s sponsors, on the other hand, cite popular support for paid leave from Marylanders: an OpinionWorks poll found 88% of respondents favored the bill, while only 9% opposed. http://www.opinionworks.com/

The Time to Care Act is worth watching. Senate President Bill Ferguson says the bill needs improvement. But Speaker of the House Adrienne Jones has prioritized paid leave this year. In short, employers should keep an eye on the potential program. If you are considering adopting or revising your own paid leave policy, please do not hesitate to contact counsel.

Andrew Will is an Associate in the firm’s Labor, Employment, and Education Group.  He can be reached at 410-938-8702 and awill@pklaw.com

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