Maryland Lawmakers Propose Mandatory Paid Sick Leave For Workers

American workers rarely receive paid sick leave, but cities and states across the country are taking up proposals to mandate that employers pay employees who have to miss work because they are sick. A group of Democratic lawmakers has added Maryland to that list with a proposal that would mandate up to seven earned sick days.

Under the proposal, the leave would be accrued based on hours worked, the reports:

The proposal, led in the House by Del. John A. Olszewski Jr. (D-Baltimore), allows all full-time employees to earn an hour of sick time for every 30 hours worked, or up to seven sick days per year. Part-time workers would earn fewer days, depending on how often they work.

Nearly 40 percent of America’s private sector workers do not receive paid sick leave, and the number swells to 80 percent for both low-income workers and food workers, 60 percent of whom said they have reported to work even while sick. A 2011 study found that 40 percent of Maryland’s private sector workers don’t receive paid sick leave.

The lack of such leave jeopardizes the health and safety of other workers — in 2009, it led to an addition 5 million cases of the H1N1 flu virus, according to estimates.

Business groups have targeted paid sick day legislation with faulty studies, but in other areas where paid sick leave is being considered, studies have shown the legislation would have little effect on labor costs. The Main Street Alliance of Oregon, a supporter of Portland’s paid sick leave proposal, estimates it would add no more than 1.9 percent to labor expenses for the city’s businesses.