ANNAPOLIS, Md. – Dozens of people rallied at Lawyers’ Mall near the Maryland State House on Monday pushing for lawmakers to finally approve paid family and medical leave.
Although Dr. Natalie Spicyn had the ability to purchase short-term disability through her employer for up to eight weeks off after a c-section birth of her son in August 2020, a proposed family leave policy would’ve granted her up to 12 weeks of paid leave.
“Along with most of my patients, I am part of the 79% of working people in Maryland without paid family and medical leave,” said Spicyn, a pediatrician and chief of adult medicine at Park West Health System in Baltimore. “Imagine the stress as a key breadwinner of having to choose between bringing your child to their earliest doctor’s appointments and going to work so you can pay rent, buy food and formula, if you need it.”
The bill represents one of the most “common-sense” policies in Annapolis for at least the last three to four years, but still hasn’t passed.
Optimism for this year comes from the backing of House Speaker Adrienne Jones (D-Baltimore County).
Dels. Kris Valderrama and C. T. Wilson sponsor similar bills in the House labeled the “Time to Care Act,” which could grant workers not only up to 12 weeks of paid leave, but also provide long term care such as following childbirth and helping an ailing family member. In addition, workers can receive partial wage replacement.
The legislation from Valderrama (D-District 26) of Fort Washington outlines an employee would make weekly contributions to a state Family and Medical Leave Insurance Fund program not to exceed 0.75% of an employee’s wages. The bill from Wilson, a Democrat from Charles County, makes the contribution at 1%.
According to the bill, “any covered employee is an employee who has worked at least 680 hours over a 12-month period immediately preceding the date on which leave is to begin.”
Both bills are scheduled for discussion Friday before the House Business Regulation Subcommittee.
Sen. Antonio Hayes sponsors a companion bill in the Senate, which received a hearing Feb. 10 before the Senate Finance Committee. The Democrat from Baltimore City stopped by Monday’s rally before he went inside the State House to convene in the Senate.
“Thank you to each and every one of you,” he said. “We would not be here today had it not been for the dedication from each of the organizations that you represent. We want to keep that momentum up.”