TESTIMONY IN SUPPORT OF HB 968:
Maryland Earned Sick and Safe Leave Act
TO: Hon. Dereck Davis, Chair, and members of the House Economic Matters Committee
FROM: Margot Dorfman, CEO
DATE: February 12, 2014
My name is Margot Dorfman and I am the CEO of the U.S. Women’s Chamber of Commerce. I support HB 968, which would allow employees in Maryland to earn and use paid sick leave.
The U.S. Women’s Chamber of Commerce was founded to support the continued economic advancement of women. We are both a product as well as a part of the great Civil Rights Movement. The Women’s Chamber has over 500,000 members – young and old, students and retirees, employees and business owners.
The issue of earned sick days cannot be painted as a clear cut struggle between business owners and the labor force. In the 21st century, women are continually advancing in our workforce. They increasingly face pressures to meet their workplace obligations, while sacrificing the time they need to care for their families. Earned sick days are an important tool to help workers meet the demands of their jobs, while providing the care their families need and staying healthy. When workers are able to earn paid sick days, they are also able to increase the value they already provide to businesses.
And as Women-owned firms already provide family friendly work environments, this legislation will level the playing field in competition with other businesses that do not support women.
The Maryland Earned Sick and Safe Leave Act also protects women’s safety by ensuring that survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking will have the time they need to safely recover from these injustices. Unfortunately, the ubiquity of these offenses means that at present, too many women are robbed not only of their safety, but also of their wages or job security when they face these forms of violence.
Just as minimum wage laws sets basic standards for wages and equal pay laws ensure that women and men receive equal pay for equal work, setting a minimum standard for earned sick and safe days makes sense. These laws set a basic floor, allowing businesses that offer paid sick days to fairly compete. Without such an earned sick days law, businesses that already do the right thing are unfairly disadvantaged.
Paid sick days are an investment in our families, our workforce, and our health that we cannot afford to do without. I urge you to pass HB 958 to ensure fairness and health for both businesses and workers.