Although Del. Kris Valderrama left her previous employer several years ago, her emotions flow when she recalls her efforts to use sick and vacation leave to care for her late ailing mother when diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.
That’s why Valderrama (D-District 26) of Fort Washington will once again introduce state legislation for thousands of Maryland workers to receive paid family leave.
State Sen. Antonio Hayes (D-Baltimore City) has a similar bill scheduled for a hearing Jan. 28 before the Senate Finance Committee. As of Sunday, Jan. 10, a hearing hadn’t been scheduled for Valderrama’s bill before the House Economic Matters Committee.
“This bill is very near and dear to me,” Valderrama said. “A lot of us can use the benefits of this bill. This could or would be [an] extreme benefit.”
The coronavirus pandemic forced last year’s Maryland General Assembly to end early which caused hundreds of bills to not receive formal approval which included paid family leave.
The proposed legislation labeled Family and Medical Leave Insurance Program, or the Time to Care Act, allows an employer to receive time off to care for a spouse, child, parent, sibling, or a family member who’s a legal guardian of the worker. Adopted children, stepchildren and grandchildren are also covered.
Workers can provide assistance for family members in the military that includes spending up to 15 days with a service member “on short-term temporary rest and recuperation leave during the period of deployment.”
To help fund the program, it would be supported through a state-administered insurance pool equally split between both employee and employer.
It’s estimated an “average worker” would pay $3.62 per week out a paycheck.
According to the legislation, low wage workers are proposed to receive up to 90 percent of their weekly pay when using paid family leave. Higher-income workers would receive about 50 percent of weekly pay.
Partial wage replacement would stem between $50 to $1,000 per week for a maximum period of 12 weeks.
An employer must provide written correspondence of the updated leave policy such as ability to request time off within five business days.
A poll conducted last month by Opinion Works of Annapolis showed about 88 percent of 1,011 registered surveyed support paid family and medical leave.
The poll conducted between Dec. 11-26 showed 68 percent “think [the $3.62] cost is less than or about what you would expect” to pay.
“To being moral, logical [and] practical, paid leave is affordable and beneficial to businesses in the business community,” said Aaron Seyidian of Montgomery County who founded Well-Paid Maids three years ago to provide housecleaning services in the D.C. area.
“I’m skeptical about any business who thinks this is going to burden them,” he said.