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The Maryland Healthy Working Families Act Goes Into Full Effect

In 2017, the Maryland General Assembly passed the Maryland Healthy Working Families Act, which was quickly vetoed by Governor Larry Hogan. On January 12, 2018, the Maryland General Assembly overrode the Governor’s veto, becoming the ninth state in the country to require paid sick and safe leave, in addition to Arizona, Washington, and others.

One of the main tenants of the bill states that businesses in the state with 15 or more employees will provide to certain employees an hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked(unless the employee works less than 12 hours a week).  Also, new employees will have to wait 106 calendar days to begin to use accrued sick leave.   According to the new law, this leave may be used to care for the employee’s own or a family member’s mental or physical illness or injury, parental leave or issues related to domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking.

According to the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation website, here’s what you need to know:

  • Employers with 15 or more employees that do not currently offer at least one hour of paid leave for every 30 hours that an employee works must establish a method to provide employees with sick and safe leave that is consistent with the law.
  • Employers that have an existing PTO policy that provides leave in an amount equal to or greater than the amount that is provided for under the law do not have to provide additional leave.
    • The department strongly encourages employers to review their existing policies to make sure that the amount of leave they provide for, as well as the terms of leave usage, are equal to or greater than the leave provided for under the law.
    • Additionally, the department strongly encourages such employers to advise employees that sick and safe leave is covered by the existing PTO the employer provides and that any additional sick and safe leave will not be provided.
  • The maximum amount of leave that an employee can accrue in one year is 40 hours.
  • An employer may elect to “front load” the leave at the beginning of the year. The leave would then be available for immediate use by employees, but employees would not be permitted to carry over any unused leave. Employers are permitted to determine their own year for purposes of leave calculation.
  • Employers with 15 or more employees will have to provide up to 40 hours of paid sick and safe leave to workers annually, and those employers with fewer employees must provide the amount of time as unpaid sick and safe leave.
    • In determining whether an employer has 15 or more employees, the department will consider those employees employed in the state of Maryland.
    • All employees employed in the state of Maryland will count towards this determination, regardless of hours worked or status within the business.
  • Both paid and unpaid leave will accrue at the rate of one hour of leave for every 30 hours worked.
    • If an employee works primarily in another state but performs work in Maryland that is incidental to his or her work performed elsewhere, the employee would not be entitled to accrue sick and safe leave for those incidental hours or work performed in Maryland.
    • If an employee performs the majority of his or her work in Maryland, the employee is entitled to accrue sick and safe leave for all time worked including any incidental work that is performed in another state.
  • Employers must provide for the accrual of leave beginning on February 11, 2018.
    • Employees employed for at least 106 days may use leave as it is accrued.
      Employees employed less than 106 days on February 11, 2018, and new employees hired after February 11, 2018, must wait 106 days from their date of hire to begin using leave.
  • Eligible employees are those that regularly work more than 12 hours a week.

Employers and employees are encouraged to send specific questions and concerns to small.business@maryland.gov so the department can continue to address any concerns from stakeholders and provide guidance on implementation.

The State of Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation has created an Employee Notice, which outlines the major points of this new law.

Please be advised that some of the above information above may be subject to change based on stakeholder input and any amendments to the law.

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