Maryland will soon become the ninth state with a paid sick days law, thanks to a strong and persistent coalition of workers and advocates. Today, members of the Senate voted 30-17 to override the governor’s veto of the Healthy Working Families Act. Yesterday, members of the House of Delegates voted 88-52 to do the same, which means hundreds of thousands of working people in Maryland will soon gain access to paid sick days and the state will join 40 other jurisdictions in guaranteeing this basic protection.
The Healthy Working Families Act, which will take effect in 30 days, will allow people working for employers with 15 or more employees to earn one hour of sick or safe leave for every 30 hours they work, up to a maximum of 40 hours per year. Employers with fewer than 15 employees will be required to provide unpaid sick and safe leave.
This victory for Maryland and the national paid sick days movement is the result of years of tireless efforts on the part of the Working Matters coalition, as well as the legislation’s champions, Dels. Luke Clippinger and Dereck E. Davis and Sen. Thomas ‘Mac’ Middleton. It continues momentum that has been building across the country, as working people, businesses and lawmakers alike realize that providing paid sick time is not just good for employees – it also bolsters families’ financial security, promotes gender equality, creates healthier communities and strengthens businesses and the economy.
In the past two years alone, more than 30 new paid sick days laws have taken effect, leading to a dramatic rise in the number of workers with access to paid sick days. Despite this progress, more than 37 million people still cannot earn a single paid sick day. For many of these workers, especially those who are paid low wages, missing even a few days of work to recover from an illness jeopardizes their ability to cover basics like groceries or rent.
Yet some in Congress are backing deceptive efforts to undermine hard-fought state and local paid sick days laws like Maryland’s. Instead, they should be working toward a common sense, national solution that would ensure no one ever has to choose between a job and their health. Members of Congress should listen to voters and follow the lead of states like Maryland by prioritizing a real paid sick days standard like the Healthy Families Act.