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Md. tries to ease burden of sick leave

A bill expected to be signed into state law would provide small employers with a tax credit to eligible employees.

Maryland’s legislature pushed through a bill on Monday to ease the burden of mandatory sick leave on restaurants and other small employers.

The measure provides companies with 14 or fewer employees a tax credit per eligible staff member of up to $500. To be eligible, the employee must be paid at least $30,000 a year and be eligible for certain benefits, including paid time off for an illness.

The credits are capped at $5 million per year, meaning late applicants may be denied the break.

Under a law enacted earlier this year, enterprises with fewer than 15 employees are required to pay up to five days of unpaid leave. Larger companies have to provide at least five paid days.

Gov. Larry Hogan had vetoed the measure, but the Maryland General Assembly overrode the veto.

Hogan favors the tax break passed on Monday as a way of offsetting the impact on small businesses. If he signs the measure, as expected, the concession will go into effect in July.

The tax credit’s passage comes as a number of jurisdictions throughout the country are looking to adopt or expand paid leave for employees who get sick. Some observers contend the pressure on lawmakers has intensified because the flu sidelined so many people this winter.

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