Healthy Working Families Act Protects Twice as Many Workers as Governor’s Proposal

Each time they get sick or need to care for a sick child, more than 700,000 working Marylanders are still forced to choose between their health and a day’s pay. Some may even lose their jobs for missing a shift to see a doctor or care for a loved one. That’s why it’s essential to pass a statewide earned sick days law that covers as many people as possible.

This year, there are two bills that purport to address the challenges that too many working Marylanders face when they or a family member falls ill. One, the Healthy Working Families Act, matches the well-vetted version that passed the House of Delegates last year. The other is a new proposal by Gov. Larry Hogan.

Taking a close look at the impact on hard-working Marylanders and their families, there is really no comparison: even under the most conservative estimates, the Healthy Working Families Act ensures roughly twice as many people can earn paid sick days, as compared to the governor’s bill, and also extends important job protections to thousands of additional employees at small businesses. The governor’s bill primarily covers many who already have paid sick leave, and leaves behind the hundreds of thousands of working families who need it most.

Healthy Working Families Act (HB 1/SB 230) Governor’s Proposal (HB 382/SB 305)
Applies to businesses with 15 or more employees Applies to businesses with 50 or more employees at a single location
Ensures most people working part-time can earn sick days. Only covers people working 30 hours or more per week.
Guarantees earned sick leave for about 512,000 Maryland workers who currently can’t earn sick days[i] Guarantees paid time off for, at most, 272,000 people who currently don’t have leave[ii]
Ensures that an additional 216,000 workers at small businesses are guaranteed unpaid sick leave without putting their jobs at risk. Does not guarantee any protections for workers at companies with fewer than 50 employees per location
Limits taxpayer costs to about $400,000 per year to cover administrative costs.[iii] Passes costs from businesses to taxpayers by adding a new tax credit, estimated to cost $63 million per year.[iv]


The difference between the bills for people who work part-time, who are often under-employed or working multiple jobs to make ends meet, is particularly significant. The governor’s proposal would exclude hundreds of thousands of people, some who may be working almost 30 hours a week or might be working more than 30 hours per week but at multiple part-time jobs. It also would do little or nothing for most restaurant workers, almost 80 percent of whom lack earned sick days.

Passing strong earned sick days legislation will benefit all Marylanders. Research has repeatedly demonstrated that a healthier workforce leads to greater worker productivity due both to workers recovering faster when they stay home and the reduced spread of illness in the workplace – a good thing for our economy.  The legislation passed this year should cover as many Marylanders as possible.


[i] Institute for Women’s Policy Research analysis of 2014 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) and 2014 IPUMS American Community Survey (ACS).

[ii] MDCEP analysis of 2015 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) and 2011–2016 IPUMS Current Population Survey Annual Social and Economic Supplement (CPS ASEC)

[iii] Fiscal and Policy Note for House Bill 580, Maryland Department of Legislative Services, 2016.

[iv] Fiscal and Policy Note for House Bill 1250, Maryland Department of Legislative Services, 2016.