The Maryland Essential Workers Protections Act will provide much-needed standards and procedures that aim to protect the health and safety of essential workers during pandemics. If passed, when a State of Emergency is called, the following protections will be afforded to essential workers:
1. Safe & Hygienic Working Conditions
Employers must provide a safe and clean workspace. This will include safety protocols, standards, and resources, including Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) at no cost to the employee, to ensure the highest degree of workplace safety.
2. Hazard Pay & Healthcare Assistance
Essential employees will receive $3/hr. hazard pay, in addition to their base pay. Open enrollment for Maryland Health Benefit Exchange coverage will be available to uninsured employees.
3. Emergency Action Plans
Every employer will submit a workplace plan that informs all employees of worksite procedures, resources, and logistical measures that will transpire during pandemics. This plan must include PPE procedures, work hours and shifts, sanitation procedures, teleworking capabilities, and any changes in pay and benefits. The requirement to submit a plan applies even when a state of emergency does not exist.
4. Universal Health & Bereavement Leave
Every employer will provide paid health leave of up to fourteen days and at least three days of paid leave due to the death of an immediate family member.
5. Right to Refuse Dangerous Work
Essential employees will have the right to refuse to engage in unsafe work. Employers shall not be allowed to retaliate against any employee once refusal occurs. All incidents will be investigated by the Maryland Occupational Safety and Health Program.
6. Free Testing and Reporting of Positive Test Results
Essential workers will have access to free testing. Employers will notify essential workers if any worker tests positive. Positive test results must be reported to the Maryland Department of Health, which will maintain a statewide dashboard by industry.