January 17, 2018
Laura L. Rubenstein
On January 12, 2018, the Maryland legislature overrode Governor Hogan's veto of the Maryland Working Families Act, after a six-year fight over paid sick leave in the Maryland legislature. The bill will take effect in 30 days, so it is imperative that employers act quickly to implement its provisions.
Modeled after the paid sick leave law currently in place in Montgomery County, the Maryland Working Families Act is extremely broad and applies to all employers in the state with at least 15 employees, without regard to whether the employees are full-time, part-time, seasonal or temporary. The law mandates that employees accrue paid sick and safe leave at a rate of 1 hour for every 30 hours worked, up to 40 hours per year. Employers have the option of either granting the maximum leave that an employee would accrue at the beginning of the year or award it as accrued. Employers are required to permit employees to carry over up to 40 hours into the next calendar year but are only required to allow an employee to use up to 64 hours in a given year. However, if an employer grants the 40 hours at the beginning of the year, it is not required to allow employees to carry over unused leave.
Employees are permitted to use sick and safe leave for their own mental or physical illness, to obtain preventative medical care for themselves or a family member, to care for a family member with an illness, for maternity or paternity leave, or for absences related to domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking against the employee or the employee’s family member. A “family member” has an extremely broad definition and extends beyond immediate family members to include grandparents and siblings. Absences related to domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking can be taken for medical attention, victim assistance services or legal services are also covered by the Act. Employees are permitted to use their sick and safe leave in increments as small as can be recorded by the employer’s timekeeping system but employers can require the use of increments of leave of at least four hours.
As quickly becomes apparent, the Maryland Working Families Act is extremely generous to employees. Beyond the details identified above, there are anti-retaliation, record-keeping and notice provisions in the Act which provide additional protections to employees. It is imperative that employers with operations and/or employees in Maryland familiarize themselves with this new law and plan for how it will impact their operations before it takes effect in thirty days, including its posting requirements.