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Maryland Enacts Paid Sick and Safe Leave

On January 12, the Maryland General Assembly voted to override Governor Larry Hogan’s veto of paid sick and safe leave legislation and the Healthy Working Families Act became law.

Normally, legislation takes effect 30 days after a veto-override vote, meaning the law would take effect on February 11, but emergency legislation has been introduced that would allow employers an additional 60 days (until April 12) to comply with the Act.

Even with some uncertainty over the effective date, it is virtually certain that the Act will become Maryland law in the very near future, and employers should review their leave and attendance policies to determine whether any changes are necessary to remain in compliance.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • Employers with 15 or more employees must provide paid sick and safe leave to employees
  • Employers with fewer than 15 employees must provide unpaid sick and safe leave to employees

A company’s size is determined by calculating the average monthly number of employees from the prior calendar year. It is extremely important to note that this calculation includes all employees: full-time, part-time, seasonal and temporary help all count towards the total. Only employees working 12 or more hours per week qualify for sick and safe leave, however.

How much sick and safe leave is required? Here’s a breakdown:

Employees accrue sick and safe leave at the rate of one hour for every 30 hours worked. Employers may cap the total at 40 hours per year and are not required to allow employees to accrue more than a total of 64 hours at any given time (note that a “year” may be either a calendar year or a fiscal year, as defined by the employer). An employer may disallow use of sick and safe leave for the first 106 calendar days of an employee’s tenure.

Finally, what constitutes a valid use of sick and safe leave? Any of the following reasons:

  • To care for or treat the employee’s own mental or physical illness, injury or condition
  • To obtain preventive medical care for the employee or the employee’s family member
  • To care for a family member with a mental or physical illness, injury or condition
  • For maternity or paternity leave
  • For certain reasons relating to domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking committed against the employee or the employee’s family member

In all of the above, the term “family member” is broadly defined, to include grandparents, siblings and even foster parents and other legal guardians.

There are some exceptions to both the types of employees who qualify and the accrual methods, so be certain to understand the Act in detail so as to be in full compliance. If you have any questions about the new legislation, contact the benefits experts at Consolidated.