The Maryland Healthy Working Families Act has survived Governor Hogan’s veto and will become law on February 12, 2018, absent a vote by the General Assembly to delay implementation. One significant and immediate change in Maryland law is the requirement for mandatory paid and unpaid sick and safe leave. The Act requires all employers with 15 or more employees to provide up to five (5) paid sick leave days per year at the rate of one (1) hour for every thirty (30) hours worked. Smaller businesses must provide unpaid sick and safe leave. Paid leave must be at the normal wage rate.
The Act requires employers to count full-time, part-time, temporary and seasonal workers for purposes of the threshold of 15; however, these employees must regularly work 12 or more hours per week and be 18 or older. There are a few additional minimum hour thresholds depending upon the frequency of pay that could reduce accrual in certain circumstances. The Act also exempts independent contractors, certain agricultural and health and human service workers, certain employees of temporary service and employment agencies, sectors of the construction industry and employees subject to a collective bargaining agreement.
Eligible employees must be permitted to earn up to 40 hours per year, use up to 64 hours per year, and accrue up to 64 hours at any one time. Use of the sick leave may be delayed for the first 106 calendar days. Exempt employees are assumed to work 40 hours per week. Accrued leave need not be paid out upon separation of employment.
At a minimum, employees must be permitted to use sick and safe leave to (1) care for the physical or mental health of the employee or a family member; (2) take maternity or paternity leave; or (3) in cases of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking involving the employee or a family member. Local sick and safe leave ordinances enacted prior to January 1, 2017 are preempted; however, Montgomery County’s more stringent requirements are still in force.
Employers are not required to alter leave policies that comply with the minimum requirements of the Act; however, all employers are required to give employees notice of their rights under the Act. Therefore, employers should review the Act, provide the notice and adjust leave policies as required prior to February 12.
The team at Clearview HR stands ready to assist with your compliance with the Act.