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Posted on Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Maryland Passes Paid Sick Leave Law

For businesses in Maryland, it’s time to take another look at your company’s policy on paid sick leave.

The Maryland Healthy Working Families Act goes into effect on February 11, 2018. The Act requires Maryland businesses with at least 15 employees, including part-time, full-time, temporary, and seasonal workers, to offer paid sick and safe leave. Smaller businesses, up to 14 employees, must provide unpaid sick and safe leave.

Maryland employers must provide paid leave allowing employees to:

  • Care for the physical or mental health of the employee or a family member;
  • Take maternity or paternity leave;
  • Obtain preventative medical care for the employee or a family member; or
  • Obtain relief in response to domestic or sexual assault of the employee or a family member.

The Act requires employers to offer eligible employees the ability to accrue up to 40 hours of paid leave a year. Employers must offer leave accrual at the rate of one hour for every 30 hours worked or award the entire 40 hours at the beginning of each year.

Employees can carry over up to 40 hours of paid leave a year, but employers can cap the use of paid leave to 64 hours per year. Employers are not required to pay out unused, accrued sick leave upon an employee’s termination. However, if the leave is not paid out and the employee is subsequently rehired within 37 weeks, the employer must reinstate the unused leave.

Employers are able to obtain verification that the paid leave is being used appropriately under certain circumstances, such as if paid leave was used for more than two consecutive scheduled shifts.

The Act does not cover every employee. The Act does not apply to employees who:

  • Regularly work fewer than 12 hours a week;
  • Are under the age of 18;
  • Are independent contractors;
  • Work in the agricultural sector on an agricultural operation;
  • Work on an as-needed basis in the health or human services industry; or
  • Are employed by a temp service agency to provide staffing services.

The Act also carves out an exception for employers in the construction industry that are parties to collective bargaining agreements. The employer and the union may agree expressly to waive the Act’s requirements. The Act does not impose any requirements on employers with existing collective bargaining agreements entered into before June 1, 2017, for the duration of the contract term.

Employers in Montgomery County will still have to comply with Montgomery County’s paid sick and safe leave law, and ensure their policies comply with both county and state requirements.

Amber Orr is an attorney at Berenzweig Leonard, LLP, a business law firm in the Washington, DC area. She can be reached aorr@BerenzweigLaw.com.