FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 24, 2017
Faith, Business and Elected Leaders Joined Allies, Hardworking Marylanders Who Lack Access to Earned Sick Leave to Support the Healthy Working Families Act (HB1/SB230)
ANNAPOLIS – Monday evening, working families and their allies rallied at the House Office Building in Annapolis to call on lawmakers to pass the Healthy Families Act (HB1/SB230) to allow hundreds of thousands of working Marylanders to earn paid sick days.
Delegate Luke Clippinger (D-46), the bill’s lead sponsor in the House and a long-time champion of earned sick leave legislation, spoke for the first time about his battle with a rare form of leukemia last year. He credited his remission to an excellent team of doctors, care covered by his health insurance and earned sick leave that allowed him to focus on getting well.
“If sick leave is good enough for me, it’s good enough for 700,000 Marylanders,” said Clippinger, a native of Baltimore, referring to an estimate of Maryland workers who are unable to earn paid sick leave. “This bill represents our values. This is who we are. This reflects the state we want to live in. It’s a state where we know that the burdens of illness shouldn’t be compounded by the burdens of poverty.”
The bill’s lead sponsor in the Senate, Senate Finance Chair Thomas “Mac” Middleton and House Speaker Michael Busch echoed this sentiment, with Middleton emphasizing the bill is the culmination of five years of effort and negotiation within the legislature, and Busch calling the bill “our number one priority.”
The Healthy Working Families Act would allow full-time and part-time employees at Maryland employers with 15 or more employees to earn one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked, up to a maximum of 7 full days (or 56 hours) per year for full-time workers. It would lift up more than 510,000 hardworking Marylanders who are currently unable to earn paid sick leave.
Speakers representing faith, education, and small business, as well as hardworking Marylanders who lack access to earned sick days, made the case for the Healthy Working Families Act on moral and practical grounds. They were joined by dozens of coalition members from community and social services groups, labor, public health and social justice organizations.
“Sometimes, a child who is clearly sick actually begs a school nurse not to call mom or dad to pick her up, because she knows that means mom or dad could lose their job,” said Betty Weller, President, Maryland State Education Association. “All the while, the illness spreads to other students and to teachers. Soon, it’s going around the entire school, halting progress for days at a time.”
A 2016 study found that employees without earned sick days are more than three times more likely to forgo medical treatment and twice as likely to forgo care for a family member than those that can earn paid sick leave. Earned paid sick days for hard-working employees would mean $132 million in savings each year for Maryland employers, largely from reduced turnover and improved productivity.
Roughly three-quarters of a million hardworking employees in Maryland have no access to earned paid sick days, and half of full-time Maryland workers earning less than $35,000 a year can’t earn a single paid sick day.
More than 8 in 10 Maryland voters support allowing workers to earn paid sick days based on the number of hours they work, including 91 percent of Democrats and 64 percent of Republicans, according to a 2015 University of Maryland-Washington Post poll.
Working Matters is a coalition of more than 150 organizations committed to advancing the Maryland Campaign for Paid Sick Days. Members include business owners, faith communities, labor unions, as well as advocates for women, minorities, children, seniors, and low-wage workers.