ANNAPOLIS, Md. — A paid family leave program was passed Saturday despite Governor Hogan's veto a day prior. The bill was passed with overriding votes of 30-16 in the Senate and 94-44 in the House.
Friday, Hogan vetoed the bill in a letter to the General Assembly, stating that despite his incline to support the bill, "this legislation is backed by no actuarial analysis, no viable plan for implementation, and leaves the smallest of small businesses vulnerable to insurmountable regulatory burdens."
Maryland joins nine other states, the District of Columbia, and a number of other countries in offering paid leave to employees.
The Time to Care Act will create an insurance program that will allow employees to take up to 12 weeks of partially paid leave to deal with family matters such as the birth of a child, caring for an unwell loved one, or dealing with a military deployment.
Most Maryland workers are covered by the bill, which also includes comprehensive workplace protections that shield employees from retribution or termination if they take advantage of the leave.
"Paid leave will help millions of Marylanders who must take time off from their job to help a loved one or welcome a new child," said Del. Kris Valderrama, the lead House sponsor.
SB 275 establishes an insurance pool, with workers and employers each contributing a small amount with each payment. The program will include:
- Almost all Maryland employees, regardless of business size, are covered, including full-time and part-time employees, as well as private and public sector employees.
- Provide up to 12 weeks of paid leave (or up to 24 weeks in some cases) when employees or their loved ones are seriously ill, when welcoming a new child (for parents of either gender, including foster and adoptive parents), or when dealing with the effects of military deployment.
- Ensure that employees have the right to return to work after a leave of absence and to keep their health insurance while on leave.
- Provide benefits through an insurance system that both employers and employees contribute to, ensuring the program is stable, solvent, and affordable for both workers and businesses.
- Pay workers on a sliding scale of up to 90% of their income, with lower-income workers receiving the highest portion of their income.
The bill also establishes a process for the state Department of Labor to set contribution rates to fund the program. Employers with fewer than 15 employees will not be required to contribute to the program, but their employees will do so and be eligible for paid time off.
"I have learned firsthand how important it is to have paid leave, first to help care for my grandmother and this year to have time with our first baby," said Sen. Antonio Hayes, the lead Senate sponsor. "Over the last couple weeks, I have sacrificed time away from my month-old son Antonio to urge my colleagues to advance The Time to Care Act because I know thousands of Maryland families would benefit from this legislation. Maryland workers sometimes may have to take time away from work to deal with these kinds of family issues. Our legislation will ensure they can do that without having to lose their paychecks or their jobs."
The bill will take effect on June 1, with the FAMLI Program, among other measures, going into effect on January 1, 2023.