HB1’s impact on Maryland tourism

By Chloe Mazzone

(August 09, 2018 – OCEAN CITY, Md.) From downtown Baltimore to the historic state capital to the sunny beaches of Ocean City—tourists flock to Maryland year-round to experience the state’s rich variety of offerings. Thousands of businesses thrive due to this tourism. In fact, it is the tenth largest industry in the state and brings in more than two billion in state and local tax revenue each year.

In mid-February, the Healthy Working Families Act, otherwise known as HB1, went into effect after the veto override. This law requires employers with 15 or more employees to provide up to 40 hours of paid sick leave annually and employers with 14 or fewer employees to provide up to 40 hours of unpaid sick and safe leave annually.

According to William Chambers, president and CEO of the Salisbury Area Chamber of Commerce, there are many challenges that small and seasonal businesses have had to overcome related to the law. Many of those challenges are related to compliance burdens such as record keeping, tracking and fear of harsh fines for honest mistakes.

“Some companies have been forced to hire additional staff in their HR sections or pay additional costs to benefit contractors to handle the record keeping burdens associated with the law,” Chambers said. “Several businesses report that they have limited staff hours to stay under the thresholds.”

Melanie Pursel, executive director of the Greater Ocean City Chamber of Commerce, agreed, “I have heard that a number of employers will just keep seasonal workers for no more that 106 days if possible. So already this is impacting the employees.”

The Maryland Chamber’s Human Resources Advisory Group received similar feedback at its last meeting. HR representatives echoed several challenges regarding compliance.

Chambers continued to state that among his local membership, “There is widespread fear of multiple new employer mandates coming out of the General Assembly in 2019. Businesses fear there will be new legislation that will put additional cost burdens on small businesses [including] minimum wage increases, scheduling bills and new business regulations and fees.”

However, Maryland Chamber member Clarion Resort Fontainebleu Hotel has had a different experience thus far with the new law. Linda Watson, director of human resources, said, “We thought we would have people calling out all summer, we were worried we would have a lot of [time-off] abuse, but no.”

Watson mentioned Clarion took all the appropriate measures to ensure employees were aware of the time-off they are allowed, through posting flyers and including time-off in their paychecks. It also addressed record keeping pertaining to the new law and mentioned its payroll solutions company has been a great assistance in keeping things running smoothly.

Maryland Chamber hopes that more businesses will have similar experiences to the Clarion. But only time will tell, as businesses gain a greater sense of the impacts of HB1 at the end of the summer tourism season.

As that time draws near, make your voice heard.  We urge you to fill out our questionnaire on how HB1 is impacting your business so we can represent the full effects of the law during the 2019 session.

Digital Questionnaire: Answer the questions now!

Print and fill out the questionnaire. Mail to: 60 West St, Suite 100, Annapolis, MD 21401

Contact us with any questions:

Larry Richardson, lrichardson@mdchamber.org, Kevin Rudolph, krudolph@mdchamber.org

Tourism’s impact on Maryland’s economy:

Want to see other pressing HR issues? Check out our article: Getting ahead of human resource challenges

 

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