This is the year for the Maryland legislature to pass the Time to Care Act and ensure that Marylanders don't have to choose between their jobs and caring for themselves or their loved ones.
Taking your aging mother to the doctor shouldn’t cost you your paycheck or your job.
But that’s the grim reality threatening many of Maryland’s 771,000 family caregivers. That’s why AARP Maryland is urging passage of the Maryland Family and Medical Leave Insurance Program (also called The Time to Care Act), which will allow employees to take limited paid leave from their jobs to care for a new child, other family member — or even themselves — who suffer with serious health conditions or disabilities. The bill would help address the financial challenges of caring for older parents, spouses and other loved ones in Maryland.
AARP is fighting to support family caregivers, the backbone of the Maryland care system.
Family caregivers help parents, spouses, and other loved ones live independently in their homes, providing about $8 billion annually in unpaid care. This care ultimately helps save the state money by delaying or preventing expensive taxpayer-funded nursing home stays and hospital visits. But caring for mom, dad or another loved one can be expensive, stressful and isolating. And the Covid-19 pandemic has only added to the daily challenges caregivers face.
Too often, employed family caregivers leave the workforce or reduce their hours to fulfill their caregiving duties, which can result in a loss of income, retirement savings, benefits and career mobility. The pandemic has significantly increased these risks because many services family caregivers depend on, such as adult day services, are still closed or at reduced capacity, further adding to the immense stress caregivers feel while trying to balance work and family.
The Maryland Family and Medical Leave Insurance Program would provide crucial help and has strong support.
The bill, as introduced by Senator Antonio Hayes and Delegate Kris Valderrama, allows Maryland workers to take up to 12 weeks of paid leave from their job for caregiving responsibilities. The wage replacement benefits are drawn from a fund pool into which both employers and employees contribute, with an average cost to workers of $3-$6 per week. Contributions are mandatory and are calculated based on the employee’s wages. The program would be supervised by the Maryland Department of Labor (DLR) and administered by the Division of Unemployment Insurance (DUI). A paid family and medical leave insurance program has strong support across party lines among individuals in Maryland. Eighty-eight percent of Maryland voters favor it, with a 61% majority saying they do so strongly.
For more information, or if you are interested in supporting the Family and Medical Leave Insurance Program, please contact AARP Maryland Director of Advocacy Tammy Bresnahan (firstname.lastname@example.org).