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Tuesday, January 17, 2017

437th session has more business laws

The 437th session of the Maryland General assembly convened on January 11, 2017 and will run for the next ninety days. Before the session started two news stories came out in December that will affect Maryland business and, as always, these things tend to hit small business owners in some way.

Governor Hogan, who has been a strong proponent for Maryland business, big and small, announced on December 7, 2016, that he plans on proposing mandatory paid sick leave in his legislative package. Under his proposal, businesses that have at least 50 employees will be required to offer paid sick leave totaling at least 40 hours a year and the ability for employees to roll over a maximum of 40 hours each year. Part-time employees would be covered after a minimum of 30 working hours and seasonal industries would be exempt if workers are employed for less than 120 days in a 12-month period. Small businesses, with less than 50 employees, who offer paid sick leave, would be eligible for tax relief.

During the announcement Governor Hogan said, “While all of us agree that more workers need sick leave in Maryland, it would be irresponsible to put a law on the books that unfairly penalizes our state’s job creators. It is clear that, in order to move forward, we must strike a balance between the needs of Maryland’s employees while not hurting our small businesses and continuing to foster a more business-friendly climate in our state.”

On December 20, 2016, news broke that five retailers who do business in Maryland agreed to end “on call” scheduling. This type of scheduling is not what one would commonly define as being available to be recalled to work. No, this type of on call means that employees must call their employer an hour before a scheduled shift to find out if they are required to work that day. If not, they are not paid for that shift, even though they may have been scheduled or planning to work.  

Aeropostale, Carter's, Disney, PacSun and Zumiez stopped the practice after an inquiry from attorneys general in Maryland, New York, California, Connecticut, Illinois, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York, Rhode Island, and the District of Columbia. In part, the inquiry stated that unpredictable schedules make it difficult for retail employees to work a second job, pursue an education, or care for family members.

The Maryland gubernatorial election is in 2018 and you can expect the political posturing to start this legislative session. Hang on, because this ride is always bumpy. We’ll see what comes out in April.

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