Paid sick leave urged in Maryland
By Jamie Smith Hopkins, The Baltimore Sun
November 12, 2012: Raquel Rojas has never worked for a company that gave her paid sick leave. Sometimes even unpaid leave isn't on offer.
The Baltimore resident said a restaurant that employed her as a line cook three years ago stopped scheduling her for work after she stayed home for two weeks to recover from pneumonia. She said she had worked through worsening symptoms for several weeks — fever, mouth sores and eventually a bad cough — until she couldn't go on.
"That happened to me, but also, not just to me," Rojas, 45, said through an interpreter. "This is probably happening to lots of workers."
Forty percent of Maryland's private-sector workers — nearly 820,000 people — have no option to take time off with pay if they're ill, according to estimates from the Institute for Women's Policy Research.
Now three Baltimore groups that advocate for workers are launching a campaign to require paid leave in the state, calling it a public-health issue as well as a matter of basic fairness. Business groups, however, argue that adding regulatory mandates can stall job growth.
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