Maryland’s New Sick and Safe Leave Law under the Healthy Working Families Act
Effective February 11, 2018, Maryland employers must provide sick and safe leave to their employees, as state legislators recently voted to override Gov. Larry Hogan’s veto of the Healthy Working Families Act. With some exceptions, businesses in the state with 15 or more employees will have to provide up to 40 hours of paid sick leave to workers each year, and those with fewer employees must provide the same amount of time as unpaid leave. The leave may be used to care for the employee’s own or a family member’s mental or physical illness or injury, parental leave, or issues related to domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking.
Employees ages 18 and older who regularly work 12 or more hours a week are eligible for leave under the act. Employees may accrue one (1) hour of paid sick and safe leave for every 30 worked—up to 40 hours a year—and they may carry over up to 40 hours of accrued leave from one year to the next. Businesses may opt to provide 40 hours of leave as a lump sum at the start of a year.
Employers are required to notify employees that they’re entitled to the sick and safe leave, as well as the rate of accrual, and also provide employees with written, individual reports listing the amount of earned leave available for use, and past usage. Employers must keep three (3) years’ worth of records on the sick and safe leave that each employee uses.
Maryland has joined eight (8) other states and several cities and counties in adopting some form of a ‘sick and safe’ leave law. This goes to show that employers can no longer simply focus on federal law compliance; rather, they need to also understand city, county and state requirements.
What Should Employers Do?
To comply, employers should update their attendance policies/handbooks and communicate the changes to employees. Employees cannot be disciplined for using leave in accordance with the new law. Additionally, payroll systems will need to be updated to properly track leave accrual and usage, and correctly report those balances on employee pay stubs. Employers must also be aware that the definition of “family member” under the new law is far broader than the definition of “immediate family member” under the Maryland Flexible Leave Act. This means that employers cannot reject an employee’s request to use sick and safe leave to care for, among others, grandparents, siblings, foster children or stepsiblings.
Contact BHI’s Director of Human Resources, Maria Clyde (firstname.lastname@example.org) to ensure you’re in compliance with Maryland’s new Leave Law.