Md. liberal leave isn't so liberal

February 09, 2010

I have been an employee with the state of Maryland for nearly four years. Though generally pleased with the benefits provided by the state for its workforce, I must take issue with the state's liberal leave policy. Liberal leave allows employees the option to use a day of vacation in order to take the day off in the event of inclement weather. Under normal circumstances this is a fairly reasonable policy -- for instance, 4 inches of snow doesn't generally make roads impassable, but it does often close schools and make commuting more difficult for most people, especially in this region. Through liberal leave the state offers the option for employees to take the day off in order to minimize risk and to take care of their children.

However, the state chose to extend liberal leave to workers during and after this most recent blizzard, even though roads remain treacherous and some side streets unplowed. Most residents of the region will agree that commuting this week has been very difficult, if not impossible. As the state and its counties are responsible for clearing the roads that would enable our safe commute, it is unfair to force employees to use vacation time because they can't reach their place of employment.

Furthermore, since state employees with little or no vacation time are forced to commute, accidents and injuries are inevitable. Consequently, to be offered liberal leave, the option to stay home only if we have vacation time to expend, is not only unreasonable but potentially hazardous.

Under these extreme circumstances Gov. Martin O'Malley should follow the federal government's example and offer its employees a day of administrative leave.

Adam Zimmerman, Silver Spring

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