The New Maryland Sick Leave Law Takes Effect February 11 And Your Business Must Be Ready

The New Maryland Sick Leave Law Takes Effect February 11 And Your Business Must Be Ready

After much angst and a few political gyrations, Maryland’s House (88-52) and Senate (30-17) voted last week to override Governor Larry Hogan’s 2017 veto of the Maryland Health Working Families Act (the “Act”)

By Jennifer L. Curry, Attorney, Baker Donelson

Unless the Senate and House pass emergency legislation to delay the effective date of the Act, currently being discussed by certain Maryland Senators, the Act will become law on February 11, 2018, 30 days after the January 12, 2018 Senate vote.  

You now have less than a month to get your business into compliance.  But don’t panic, below are answers to basic questions you might have:

What does this law do?  This law requires certain Maryland employers to provide paid sick leave to eligible employees.

Does this law apply to my company and employees?  The law applies to all Maryland employers that employ 15 or more employees, regardless of whether those employees are full-time, part-time, temporary, or seasonal. 

Who is considered an “eligible employee”?  An “eligible employee” is any person working for an employer with 15 or more employees, but there are several exceptions, including certain real estate professionals, certain temporary workers, and workers directly employed by an employment agency to provide part-time or temporary services to another person.  The law also does not apply to workers who (1) regularly work less than 12 hours per week; (2) are under the age of 18; (3) are independent contractors; (4) are construction workers who are covered by a collective bargaining agreement; or (5) are considered as-needed service providers in health or human services industries who are not guaranteed work and who may accept or reject offered shifts.

If my company and employees are covered by the law, what is required?  For eligible employees, an employer must provide leave allowing them to (1) care for the physical or mental health of the employee or a family member, (2) take maternity or paternity leave, or (3) obtain relief in response to domestic or sexual assault of the employee or a family member.

Does the law require a certain amount of leave to be provided and, if so, does it require how those hours must be accrued?  Covered employers must allow eligible employees the ability to accrue up to 40 hours of paid leave in a year, and must either allow leave hours to accrue at a rate of at least one hour for every 30 hours worked or award the entire 40 hours at the beginning of each year. 

Can employees carry over accrued, unused leave time from year to year?  Employees must be allowed to carry over up to 40 hours of paid leave, but employers can cap the use of paid leave at 64 hours per year. 

Does my company have to pay out unused sick leave at termination?  The Act makes very clear that employers are not required to pay out unused, accrued sick leave upon an employee’s termination.  The Act, however, does requires that if an employee is re-hired within a 37 week period, the employer must reinstate the unused leave that was available to the employee at the time of the prior separation.

Does the law allow employers to place any restrictions on the use of leave?  Yes, there are several.  An employer may forbid the use of paid leave until after the employee has worked 106 calendar days from his or her date of hire; cap leave accrual at 64 hours total and 40 hours annually; require up to seven days’ notice for the use of foreseeable leave; and implement policies designed to prevent the improper use of leave.

Does the law allow employers to verify the proper use of leave?  Yes, an employer is permitted to obtain verification of appropriate use of paid leave if leave (1) was used for more than two consecutive scheduled shifts, or (2) was used between the first 107th and 120th calendar days of employment and the employee agreed to provide verification at the time of hire.  The law is otherwise silent as to what type of verification may be requested and whether employers can obtain other kinds of verification.

Are there any notification requirements?  The law requires that employers notify employees of their rights under the Act by posting notice (which is expected to be published by the Commissioner of Labor and Industry) and by providing a written statement to employees each pay period when wages are due that details each individual employee’s amount of earned leave available for use.

Are there are any recordkeeping requirements?  As with all other employment records, employers are required to keep a record, for at least three years, of all earned leave accrued and used by each employee.

If have more questions, or would like guidance on implementing the requirements of the new law, please contact me at (410) 862-1131 or jcurry@bakerdonelson.com.

About Baltimore City Chamber of Commerce

The Baltimore City Chamber of Commerce is the voice of, and chief advocate for the City’s business community.  Through education, strategic communications and stakeholder engagement, the Public Affairs & Policy Committee empowers Chamber members with a shaping influence among elected officials, and the means for advocating a pro-business agenda.

As the voice of Baltimore businesses, the Baltimore City Chamber of Commerce’s focus is to serve as a forum through which members are able to grow their respective businesses. Programs and initiatives foster collaboration long-term growth, and development, and each campaign is designed to promote both members and the City’s core value propositions. The Chamber is committed to advocating for the continuing adoption of a pro-business agenda by the City of Baltimore and the region on behalf of its members.

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