The Maryland General Assembly legislative session begins Jan. 10, 2018. It most likely will begin in much the same way as the last session ended. One of the top priorities for this session will be House Bill 1, the Maryland Healthy Working Families Act.

This legislation would require employers to allow full-time and part-time employees to accrue sick leave at a rate of one hour for every 30 hours worked. All employers will be required to provide time off for sick leave. Employers with 10 or more employees would be required to provide paid sick leave. In addition, this bill provides costly fines and penalties if an employer fails to comply.
HB1 was vetoed by Gov. Larry Hogan at the end of last session and is scheduled for a vote to override that veto this session.

On Nov. 28, 2017, Hogan introduced a paid leave compromise proposal to provide paid leave benefits to Marylanders while addressing the most problematic elements of HB1. The Paid Leave Compromise Act of 2018 would require businesses with 25 or more employees to offer paid leave to their employees by the year 2020. To give businesses time to prepare, the benefits will be phased in, starting in 2018 for businesses with 50 or more employees, in 2019 for businesses with 40 or more employees, and extending to all applicable businesses in 2020.

In addition to the issue of paid sick leave, the General Assembly most likely will be debating other labor and employment issues.

• Fair Scheduling: This proposed legislation would require employers to schedule all employees three weeks in advance or pay significant penalties for non-compliance and any changes made after that date, unless all affected employees agreed to the schedule change in writing.

• $15 Minimum Wage: This legislation would increase the state minimum wage to $15 per hour. On Nov. 13, 2017, Montgomery County signed into law a $15 minimum wage to become effective July 1, 2021, for businesses with 51 or more workers; July 1, 2023, for businesses employing 11–50 workers; and July 1, 2024, for businesses with fewer than 11 workers.

• Job Announcement and Salary History Information Disclosures: This legislation would require employers with 15 or more employees to include specified salary information in a job announcement in recruiting an employee or independent contractor to fill a position within the employer’s organization; prohibit specified employers from paying less than the minimum rate of pay included in a specified job announcement to a specified employee; and prohibit specified employers from seeking salary history information for an employee by specified methods.

In an election year, these labor and employment issues surely will be hotly contested.

Cheryl Brown is an attorney with Davis, Agnor, Rapaport and Skalny LLC, in Columbia. She can be reached at [email protected].