ANNAPOLIS – This morning, a group of twelve women legislators sent a letter to Senate President Thomas V. “Mike” Miller and House Speaker Michael E. Busch calling attention to the unintended consequences the Healthy Working Families Act will have on victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.
The Healthy Working Families Act mandates up to 40 hours of “sick and safe” leave for employees who work for businesses with 15 or more employees. The bill was vetoed earlier this year, but the debate on overriding the veto will take place early in the upcoming 2018 Legislative Session.
The concern centers on language in the bill that allows an employer to ask employees to “provide verification that the leave was used appropriately”. While providing a doctor’s note to one’s employer after an illness may seem reasonable, it is anything but for those who use leave because of domestic violence or sexual assault.
“Quite simply, no woman should have to disclose to their employer that they are taking leave because of domestic violence or sexual assault. Such a requirement further victimizes these women by giving them no choice but to disclose deeply personal and private information. It just goes too far,” the letter states.
Rather than work on overriding the veto of the incredibly-flawed Healthy Working Families Act, the letter urges the presiding officers to work on a clean bill that simply provides Paid Time Off, without the cumbersome and intrusive documentation requirements; “Rather than reconsidering HB 1 in January, we implore you to pass a paid sick leave bill that allows individuals and parents to keep health issues a private matter, and victims and family members to keep any potential domestic violence or sexual assault issue out of the employer’s purview.”