On January 12, 2018, Maryland became the ninth state to require employers to provide employees with sick leave when lawmakers overrode Governor Larry Hogan’s veto. Barring action by the General Assembly to delay implementation of the law, the “Healthy Working Families Act” will go into effect on February 11, 2018.
Maryland’s sick leave law is largely similar to other sick leave laws, but it does have some notable differences. Under the law, employers must provide up to five days (40 hours) of sick and safe leave per year for employees (regardless of whether those employees are seasonal, temporary, part-time, or full-time). The 40 hours can be frontloaded at the beginning of each year or accrued at a rate of one hour for every 30 hours worked by the employee. Employees can carry over up to 40 hours of sick leave a year, however employers can cap total accrual and annual use of sick leave at 64 hours per year and are not required to pay out accrued, unused sick leave upon termination of employment. Employers with up to 14 employees must provide unpaid sick and safe leave, while employers of 15 or more employees must provide paid sick leave.
As with other sick leave laws, sick leave can be used to care for absences for illness and preventative medical care for the employee or the employee’s family member, and absences from work due to domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking committed against the employee or the employee’s family member. Additionally, Maryland employees can use sick leave for maternity or paternity leave.
Notably, the law does not apply to workers who regularly work less than 12 hours a week, and contains provisions limiting employees from accruing sick leave during periods in which they work fewer than an average of 12 hours per week.
Finally, while the law preempts local sick leave ordinances, it leaves in place the Montgomery County, Maryland paid sick leave ordinance, one of the more generous sick leave laws in the nation, which allows employees to accrue up to 56 hours of paid sick leave per year. Thus, employers with employees in Montgomery County need to revise their paid leave policies and practices to sync with both state and county leave requirements.
Employers should act quickly to ensure they are ready to comply to with this new law.