Healthcare Reform Updates

New Maryland Paid Sick Leave Law

The Maryland General Assembly voted on January 12, 2018 to override Governor Hogan’s veto of the “Maryland Healthy Working Families Act,” a bill that will require Maryland employers to provide “Earned Sick and Safe Leave” (ESS) to employees.  The law will go into effect on February 11, 2018 unless the General Assembly acts to delay its implementation.

The new paid sick leave law applies to all employers in the State of Maryland (including a unit of State or local government), regardless of size.  Employers with 15 or more employees will be required to provide employees with paid leave for the reasons listed below, and employers with fewer than 15 employees will be required to provide unpaid leave for those same reasons.  The number of employees is calculated by using the average monthly number of all employees (including full-time, part-time, temporary, and seasonal) who were employed during the immediately preceding 12 months.

Employers must allow employees to earn ESS at a rate of at least one hour for every 30 hours worked, up to 40 hours a year.  Employees may carry over ESS from year-to-year, although the carryover amount may be capped at 64 hours. The total amount of ESS that an employee may actually use in a year may also be capped at 64 hours.  As is the case with comparable laws in jurisdictions such as Montgomery County and the District of Columbia, employers may use Paid Time Off (“PTO”) plans to meet their Maryland ESS obligations.

Employees may take ESS for the following reasons:

  • Care or treatment of the employee’s or a family member’s mental or physical illness, injury, or conditions;
  • Preventive medical care for the employee or family member;
  • Maternity or paternity leave; and
  • Absences that are necessary due to domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking committed against the employee or the employee’s family member.

(For purposes of the above, a “family member” includes children, parents, spouses, in-laws, step-family relationships, siblings, and grandparents.)

The following employees do not have rights under the law:

  • Employees who regularly work less than 12 hours a week for the employer;
  • Certain employees who are employed in the construction industry and are covered by a bona fide collective bargaining agreement that waives these requirements; and
  • Certain per diem employees in the health or human services industry.

Employers must provide written notice to employees regarding their right to use ESS and must post a poster provided by the Maryland DLLR. Employers also are subject to certain record-keeping obligations.

Naturally, Maryland employers should take steps now to prepare for the new law in case the February 11 effective date is not extended.

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