Bills Would Extend Benefits to Part-Time, Contract Employees

On February 9, 2016 MACo Policy Associate, Kevin Kinnally testified in opposition to Senate Bill 230, Labor and Employment – Maryland Healthy Working Families Act and Senate Bill 305, Commonsense Paid Leave Act to the Senate Finance Committee. 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.

SB 230, 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, seasonal, and contractual employees. The bill expands the definition of “family members” and includes a broad array of circumstances for taking sick leave.

From the MACo testimony,

This bill 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. Additionally, this bill may increase costs of providing services, such as after-school activities, summer camps, and community services for vulnerable populations. Accommodating this legislation could result in cuts to those programs.

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 services to the public.

SB 305, Commonsense Paid Leave Act, this bill would require employers, including counties, to provide paid time off at a normal rate of pay for full-time and contractual employees. An employer with fewer than 50 employees is eligible for a subtraction modification if the employer provides all employees with paid leave.

From the MACo testimony,

Extending broad leave benefits to contractual employees would require counties to make administrative changes and incur additional costs. Another substantial concern is with the carryover county fiscal effects of the tax benefits offered under the bill. According to the bill’s fiscal note, local revenues would decrease by $36.5 million annually – a massive fiscal cost. This revenue effect, combined with that of providing contractual employees with paid time off, is simply not affordable as a statewide county mandate and could present substantial budget difficulties.

This bill would infringe on local autonomy and flexibility by preempting local governments from enforcing existing leave policies and from enacting any new law that regulates leave provided by an employer.

Follow MACo’s advocacy efforts during the 2017 legislative session here.