With the Maryland legislative session in full gear, advocacy groups are planning to host a rally in Annapolis Monday to push lawmakers to pass paid family and medical leave.

The Time To Care Act of 2022 would create a family and medical leave insurance program, allowing employees to take up to 12 weeks of paid leave from their jobs to care for new children, address a family member’s health concern or care for themselves.

Myles Hicks, executive director of Maryland Rise, one of the 100-plus businesses and organizations in the Time To Care Coalition, said workers need to take time off without it affecting their ability to pay bills.

“Too many Marylanders are being faced with the impossible decision of having to choose between family health concerns or choosing to have to go to work and receive a paycheck,” Hicks asserted. “This legislation would ensure that if you are facing a health issue, that you take that time, and you don’t have to sit there and say, ‘Man, if I don’t go to work I’m not going to get paid.’ “

Opponents argued most large private employers already provide paid time off, and said the measure would be a burden on businesses. Employees would receive a minimum of $50 to a maximum of $1,000 a week in partial wage replacement.

Among registered voters in the state, 88% support a paid-family-leave program.

Tammy Bresnahan, director of advocacy for AARP Maryland, said the pandemic has amplified the need for workers such as nursing-home employees and caregivers to have benefits such as paid leave.

“What this bill would do is keep them in the workforce,” Bresnahan explained. “They would have at least the ability to return to work because it’s protected when they are on FMLA (Family Medical Leave Act) but have a little bit of a wage replacement so that they don’t have to [become] destitute themselves.”

Nine states and Washington D.C. have paid-family- and medical-leave laws. The legislation was cross-filed in the House and Senate and had hearings in both chambers this month. The act was introduced last session but never made it out of committee.

Emily Scott is a reporter and producer in Philadelphia. She previously worked at WHYY, Philadelphia’s NPR station, and is a 2018 graduate of Temple University and the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies. https://twitter.com/emilyivyscott

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