From the Harford County Chamber of Commerce:
The mandated paid leave bills currently being considered in the Maryland House and Senate (HB 1 and SB 230) are severely detrimental to the business community of Harford County. The Harford County Chamber of Commerce represents 800 local businesses; over the course of this year’s legislative session we have heard persistent, vocal concerns about these bills from our business community due to the extreme financial and administrative burdens it imposes on them. Although the bills are couched in language that suggests it defends vulnerable workers in Maryland, the truth is that this legislation will have the greatest negative impact on entry-level workers and small businesses trying to make ends meet.
Consider businesses that hire workers on a seasonal basis. These employees are often students, people struggling to find employment, and men and women holding more than one job. Because this legislation demands that employers keep excessive documentation on these employees’ hours in case they return the following season, and because earned leave is re-credited when these employees are reinstated, the law effectively discourages businesses from hiring the same workers year after year. Businesses will have no choice but to hire workers who have not already accrued significant amounts of paid leave. It is easy to imagine a large corporation simply hiring more workers; in reality, it is the “Mom and Pop” businesses who can barely afford to hire seasonal employees as is, let alone supplement their workforce because reinstated employees are entitled to take leave during the most demanding parts of the year.
Employers tend to give their employees what they can afford to give while remaining competitive with other businesses. Many already provide benefits that cover illness, but those who do not give such benefits cannot afford to do so. Even the Federal Government recognizes that smaller employers are less able to provide certain benefits. Laws like the Family and Medical Leave Act only apply to businesses with 50 or more employees. In comparison, the Maryland House and Senate bills apply to employers with as few as 15 employees. The harmful effects of such legislation are basic economics – and similar laws passed in other states illustrate the detrimental impact that will follow in Maryland. In San Francisco, the Institute for Women’s Policy and Research found that the local paid leave law was responsible for layoffs and hours reductions for almost 20 percent of all leisure and hospitality workers. In Washington, D.C., employers had to revamp their payroll and leave tracking systems, spend time and money revising policies for the sake of compliance, and hire lawyers to ensure they were not breaking the law unknowingly. Again, while this is easier for large businesses with human resource departments and personnel who manage leave, small local businesses in Harford County may only have one owner in charge of everything.
The Harford Chamber recognizes why the General Assembly wants to pass this law. Like our legislators, we seek to improve our community by supporting our businesses and workers. The mandated paid leave bills do not accomplish this goal. They squeeze our businesses financially and lead to greater unemployment, lower wages, and less job security. This legislation is not just bad business, it is bad common sense.
President & CEO
Harford County Chamber of Commerce