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Should Employers Be Required To Give Paid Sick Leave?

Valerie Hinojosa / Flickr

The week before last, in his State of the Union address, President Obama highlighted paid family and sick leave as part of his Healthy Families Act.  That was just after he paid a visit to Charmington’s – just up the street from WYPR’s studios – to promote his efforts. Millions of Americans don’t have sick leave -- about 40 percent of all workers.  In Maryland it’s estimated that 700,000 workers lack paid sick leave, and half of them earn less than $35,000 per year.

Here in Maryland Senate Majority leader Kathy Pugh of Baltimore has proposed a bill similar to the president’s plan to mandate that full and part-time employees could earn one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours of paid work. The Senate Finance Committee is scheduled to hear testimony on the bill tomorrow.

Opponents say businesses should get to decide their own benefits policies. Advocates think this bill will help working families, especially low wage earners.   We’ve asked someone on each side to discuss it with us.

Here in the studio is Melissa Broome, senior policy advocate of Job Opportunities Task Force, which advocates and develops policies on behalf of the working poor. She’s also one of the leaders of the Working Matters coalition, Maryland’s campaign for paid sick days.

Joining us on the phone is Republican Del. Kathy Szeliga, minority whip in the house of delegates. She and her husband started a construction company close to thirty years ago and she opposes the bill, called the Healthy Family Leave Act.

Sheilah Kast is the host of On The Record, Monday-Friday, 9:30-10:00 am.