Maryland and Virginia have joined DC in implementing laws relating to paid family and medical leave for private sector workers. Employers in the Washington Metropolitan area will need to comply with the new paid family and medical leave policies in their respective states.
Under the District of Columbia’s Universal Paid Leave Act employees are eligible for paid leave, which is funded by payroll taxes, for the following reasons:
- Family leave – To care for a family member with a serious health condition;
- Medical leave – To care for an employee’s own serious health condition (including, on and after October 1, 2021, the occurrence of a stillbirth and the medical care related to a miscarriage);
- Parental leave – To bond with the employee’s child after the child’s birth, placement of a child with an employee for adoption or foster care, or placement of a child with an employee who will legally assume and discharge parental responsibility; and
- Pre-natal leave – For covered pre-natal medical care following the diagnosis of pregnancy by a healthcare provider and prior to the birth of the child.
Covered employers are those that are required to pay unemployment insurance on behalf of employees in the District. Eligible employees are those that (1) spend at least 50 percent of the employee’s work time in the District or (2) work for an employer based in the District and regularly spend a substantial amount of work time in the District, but no more than 50 percent of their work time in another jurisdiction.
Until July 1, 2022, the maximum number of leave weeks are:
- 8 workweeks of parental leave;
- 6 workweeks of family leave;
- 6 workweeks of medical leave; and
- 2 workweeks of pre-natal leave.
Starting on July 1, 2022, these maximums will increase to:
- 12 workweeks of parental leave;
- 12 workweeks of family leave;
- 12 workweeks of medical leave; and
- 2 workweeks of pre-natal leave.
Once the new maximums take effect, there will be an overall cap of 12 weeks of Universal Paid Leave Act leave available to each eligible D.C. employee per year.
While this law does not offer employees job-protected leave, other applicable law(s) may apply job protections during the time of leave, such as the federal Family and Medical Leave Act or the District of Columbia Family and Medical Leave Act. Employers are prohibited from taking any action to interfere with, restrain, or deny the exercise of employee rights related to this law.
The Maryland Time to Care Act of 2022 Program will be established on June 1, 2022. Employer and employee benefit contributions through payroll taxes will be announced in 2023, and contributions to the fund will be collected beginning October 1, 2023. Paid leave will be available beginning on January 1, 2025. The Act covers the majority of employers in Maryland and employees will be able to take paid leave for the following reasons:
- To care for a child during the first year after the child’s birth or after the placement of the child through foster care, kinship care, or adoption;
- To care for a family member with a serious health condition;
- Employee’s own serious health condition that results in the employee being unable to perform the functions of the employee’s position;
- To care for a service member who is the employee’s next of kin; or
- Because the employee has a qualifying exigency arising out of the deployment of a service member who is a family member of the covered individual.
The maximum amount of leave a covered individual may take is 12 weeks per year (the year begins the day the employee files an application for benefits). However, a covered employee may receive an additional 12 weeks if they qualify for both parental leave and medical leave due to their own serious health condition in the same application year.
Employers are required to restore an employee to an equivalent position of employment upon the expiration of the leave. Employers may only terminate an employee on leave “for cause” and can deny the employee’s restoration rights if the denial is necessary to prevent “substantial and grievous” economic injury to the employer’s operations. Implementing regulations from the Maryland Department of Labor are expected. They may give clarity to the new law’s requirements that employees use all employer-provided leave that is not required by law before receiving benefits under the law.
Virginia’s Private Family Leave Insurance Act permits employers, on a voluntary basis, to purchase insurance policies that provide benefits to replace a percentage or portion of a qualifying employee’s income loss due to:
- The birth of a child or adoption of a child by the employee;
- The placement of a child with the employee for foster care;
- The care of a family member of the employee who has a serious health condition; or
- Circumstances arising out of the fact that the employee’s family member who is a service member is on active duty or has been notified of an impending call or order to active duty.
Under the bill, family leave insurance may be written as an amendment or rider to a group disability income policy, included in a group disability income policy, or written as a separate group insurance policy purchased by an employer.
Employers are recommended to review their current parental leave policies to ensure compliance and coordination with the new laws in Maryland and Virginia.