ROCKVILLE, Md., February 2, 2016—The Montgomery County Council today unanimously approved legislation to significantly strengthen the enforcement of the County’s Living Wage law. Montgomery County service contractors are required to pay their workers a living wage set annually based on the rate of inflation. Bill 43-15 addressed concerns that that some employers were making deductions to their workers’ paychecks without the consent of the worker.
Possible violations of the living wage law were first reported by The Washington Post in May 2015. In October, lead sponsors Councilmembers Nancy Navarro and Marc Elrich introduced Bill 43-15. Councilmembers George Leventhal and Hans Riemer co-sponsored the bill.
The Post reported that approximately 140 governments nationwide have similar living wage laws to Montgomery County. That story can be found at http://tinyurl.com/gv765h3 .
The current living wage for employees working for contractors with Montgomery County is $14.35.
As approved, Bill 43-15 accomplishes the following:
- Requires detailed payroll records to be submitted quarterly to the Office of Procurement and requires the County to retain those records for at least five years.
- Establishes strong penalties, such as suspension and debarment, for a Living Wage law violation.
- Requires the County to perform regular and random audits and allows the County to recover costs for performing an audit as a result of an enforcement action.
- Prohibits an employer from making a deduction for any item necessary for an employee to perform the essential job function.
- Allows the County to withhold payment to a contractor found in violation of the Living Wage law.
- Removes the exemption in the Living Wage law for employees subject to collective bargaining agreements.
“I am pleased my colleagues unanimously supported this legislation to strengthen the County’s Living Wage law,” said Councilmember Navarro. “Montgomery County’s Living Wage law is designed to protect workers from abuses by employers and Bill 43-15 provides teeth to ensure the County can enforce it appropriately. Now, workers and the County will have recourse if an employer is not paying their employees fairly.”
Councilmember Elrich said: “In 2002, the Council passed a living wage bill with the clear intent to provide employees with a living wage. It is unfortunate that certain unscrupulous business owners managed to subvert the intent of the law, to the detriment of their employees. As amended today, the law now has clear reporting requirements and distinct penalties for not paying employees on County contracts a living wage. I am proud to stand with Councilmember Navarro and my colleagues in sending this clear message that the County will protect contractor employees’ right to earn a living wage.”
County Executive Ike Leggett will have 10 days to approve the bill after he receives it from the Council. The bill will take effect 91 days after it is signed by the County Executive.
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