Extra Sick Leave Hurts Government Response To COVID-19

On March 2, MACo Policy Associate Drew Jabin testified before the Economic Matters Committee in opposition to HB 1326 – Maryland Healthy Working Families Act – Revisions and Public Health Emergency Leave. This bill would place significant costs on local jurisdictions as a result of paying for additional leave required during a public health emergency.

From the MACo Testimony:

Under state law, counties would have no choice but to fund these mandated changes to the Maryland Healthy Working Families Act—competing for limited local funds against school construction, public safety, roadway maintenance, and other essential public services.

Public sector employees include individuals like health officers, 9-1-1 operators, public safety personnel, and other front-line government staff who keep local services running for the health and safety of Maryland’s communities. They are essential at all times, but never more so
than during a public health emergency, as the COVID-19 crisis has made abundantly clear. Effective local government response to an emergency is dependent on being fully staffed. HB 1326 would require employers to offer an additional 112 hours of sick and safe leave per
employee during a public health emergency, when public sector employees are most needed to serve their communities.

Additionally, removing the length of service requirement will mean more employees qualify for this benefit adding yet another extraordinary fiscal hit. Furthermore, the removal of the oncall provision for eligibility will be difficult to implement as many on-call employees serve as back up for employees that are already out on paid leave.

Follow MACo’s advocacy efforts during the 2021 legislative session on MACo’s Legislative Tracking Database.

Stay tuned to Conduit Street for the latest.

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