On Friday, January 12, 2018, the Maryland General Assembly enacted the Maryland Healthy Working Families Act over Governor Larry Hogan’s veto. Under the new law, employers with more than 15 full-time employees must provide their employees up to 40 hours of paid leave annually, which is earned at the rate of 1 hour of leave for every 30 hours worked. The law further permits employees to carryover a maximum of 40 hours of unused leave each year, but limits their use of the leave to no more than 64 hours in a single year. Employers with less than 15 employees also are required to provide employees with up to 40 hours of accrued sick and safe leave each year, but the leave is unpaid.

Employees may use sick or safe leave for absences resulting from their own medical condition, to care for an ill family member, for preventative medical care, for maternity or paternity leave, domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking committed against the employee or a family member. “Family members” include the employee’s children, parents, spouse, grandparents, grandchildren and siblings.

The law excludes from its coverage employees who regularly work less than 12 hours a week. Additionally, employers may preclude employees from using the leave during their first 106 days of employment. Employees, however, begin accruing the leave on their first day of work.

Currently, the law is scheduled to go into effect on February 12, 2018. Senator Thomas “Mac” Middleton, chair of the Senate Finance Committee and Senate sponsor of the bill, said that legislators are considering extending the implementation date to 90 days (April 13, 2018) in order to give state and local governments more time to adapt. Senator Middleton also indicated his willingness to discuss credits for employers who need help absorbing the law’s impact.

The new sick and safe leave law is a marked change, as Maryland previously did not require employers to provide employees with any sick leave, either paid or unpaid. To assist employers in coping with the law’s impact, Governor Hogan issued an Executive Order on January 15 creating the Office of Small Business Regulatory Assistance. The Legislature has 50 days to either consent to or pass a resolution of disapproval of this action.

Maryland becomes the ninth state requiring employers to provide paid sick leave to their employees.