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Maryland Passes Paid Family and Medical Leave Law

Maryland’s Time to Care Act (TTCA) establishes a paid family and medical leave (PFML) insurance program. Contributions to the program will start on October 1, 2023. Contribution rates are still to be determined. Those rates will be determined no later than June 1, 2023. Starting in 2025, covered employees may take up to 12 weeks of leave in a rolling 12 months, with an additional 12 weeks possible if the employee experiences a serious health condition or needs to bond with a new child.

The program will provide up to 90% of the average weekly wages. Covered employers must participate in the state program or comply with an approved private plan. This leave will be in addition to the state’s existing sick and safe leave under the Healthy Working Families Act.

Wage Benefits
Benefits will become available January 1, 2025, with a $50 weekly minimum and $1,000 weekly maximum benefit. There will be no waiting period. The weekly maximum will be adjusted yearly by the annual percentage growth in the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U), Washington-Arlington-Alexandria area.

Calculation
An employee’s average weekly wage (AWW) is calculated as the total wages received in the prior 680 hours that the employee was paid divided by the number of weeks worked. The weekly benefit amount will be calculated as:

  • 90% of the employee’s AWW, up to 65% or less of the state average weekly wage (SAWW)
  • 50% of the employee’s AWW, for any part that is greater than 65% of the SAWW.

Employees receiving workers’ compensation for reasons other than a permanent partial disability are not eligible for PFML benefits.

Funding
As previously stated, employer and employee contributions start October 1, 2023. Employers with fewer than 15 employees need not contribute. Neither do covered employees with an hourly wage less than $15 per hour. The state intends to pay the required contribution for those individuals.

Employers may contribute either the entire employee portion or some of it. Self-employed individuals who opt into the program must contribute the total rate and are subject to the same October 1, 2023 contribution start date.

Qualifying Leave
The following reasons qualify for leave:

  • Parental leave: birth, adoption, foster care placement or kinship care (an undefined term) of an employee’s child during the first year.
  • Family caregiving: care for a family member with a serious health condition, as defined by the statute.
  • Service member caregiving: care for an employee’s next of kin who is a service member with a serious health condition.
  • Medical: an employee’s serious health condition causing inability to perform the functions of his or her position.

Covered employers.  The law applies to all employers (including state and local governmental employers) with at least one employee working in Maryland. An employer does not include the sole owner of a sole proprietorship or limited liability company or a C or S corporation whose owner is the only employee.

Covered employees. Full and part-time employees are eligible for PFML if they worked at least 680 hours in the 12 months immediately before the leave starts.

Required Notices
Employers must provide each employee with a written notice about the law’s rights and duties upon their hire and annually thereafter. Employee leave requests potentially triggering TTCA leave require an employer to provide a notice of eligibility to the employee within five business days of the request. The Maryland Department of Labor will furnish model notices.

Employers may require at least 30 days’ advance written notice for foreseeable leave. For unforeseeable leave, employees must provide notice as soon as practicable and comply with the employer’s notice procedures and requirements for other types of leave.

Any questions on the new law regarding FMLA, contact Consolidated Insurance + Risk Management today.

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