Bills Would Extend Benefits to Part-Time, Contract Employees

On March 1, 2016 MACo Director of Research, Robin Clark Eilenberg testified in opposition of HB 851, Counties – Paid Sick Leave for Limited-Term Grant-Funded Employees – Requirement and HB 580, Labor and Employment – Maryland Healthy Working Families Act.

These bills would require counties to extend their employee leave policies, which are generally very generous, to all part-time and grant-funded contract employees.

HB 851, Counties – Paid Sick Leave for Limited-Term Grant-Funded Employees – Requirement mandates that all counties to provide an employee whose position is funded through a limited-term grant with paid sick leave in the same manner and to the same extent that the county provides paid sick leave to an employee in an equivalent position that is not funded through a limited-term grant.

Counties are concerned that this requirement would shift the effectiveness of the grant away from the primary service recipients and toward overhead costs.

From the MACo testimony,

County governments apply and receive grant-funding in order to expand the breadth of their service offerings to the local community. Many grant-funded employees work in community services, reaching out elderly and providing them health and nutrition education, housing, advocacy, in-home services, and other programs that support their ability to thrive in the community.

County community services and aging agencies are struggling to continue all services as they transition to new fee-for-service models. At the same time, populations of elderly are rising in Maryland, and residents in many areas of the state still suffer from the recession.

Counties seek out grant funding to help continue key services in difficult times. . . Requiring specific benefits for each grant-funded employee will add administrative complexities to grant tracking and could reduce services provided to needy residents.

HB 580, Labor and Employment – Maryland Healthy Working Families Act, would require county employers to provide paid sick leave at a normal rate of pay for part‐time employees. The bill expands the definition of “family members” and includes a broad array of circumstances for taking sick leave.

From the MACo testimony,

Extending broad leave benefits to part-time employees would require counties to make administrative changes and incur additional costs; however, the larger concern is the potential operational inefficiency. Providing many public services depends on the attendance of those employees who work a limited schedule. . . The expansive definition of sick leave allowed under this legislation and the extended definition of “family member” would entitle part-time employees to absences for many reasons other than their own health. In the context of county government, the unscheduled absence of these employees can overburden other county workers and create extra expenses in the provision of essential services to the public.

For more on 2016 MACo legislation, visit the Legislative Database.