On June 30, 2015, the Montgomery County Council passed Bill 60-14, which will enable employees county-wide to receive paid sick and safe leave from their employers. The unanimous decision made Montgomery County the first in Maryland, and the 23rd nationwide, to pass such a bill. Although the original bill was slightly changed to provide partial exemptions for employers with fewer than five employees, the bill remains as one of the strongest to be passed at the city or state level.
As of October 1, 2016, employers who operate and do business within Montgomery County and who employ five or more employees will be required to provide a minimum of one earned hour of paid time off for every 30 hours worked, but such employers shall not be required to provide more than 56 hours of paid time off within a calendar year. As for businesses with less than five employees, employers are required to allow up to 32 hours of earned paid sick and safe leave as well as 24 hours of earned unpaid leave within a calendar year, with paid leave accruing before unpaid leave. All employers are not required to allow employees to use in excess of 80 hours of paid sick and safe leave in a calendar year. Employers must notify employees of their right to earn sick and safe leave.
Employers may calculate leave as it accrues or they may provide employees with the full amount of annual leave at the beginning of the year. However, for leave that accrues during the course of the year, employees must be allowed to carry over the balance of earned but unused leave, up to a maximum of 56 hours. Also, leave must be permitted to accrue during an initial employment probationary period, but employees may be prohibited from using that earned leave until after the probationary period expires. Finally, this law does not require employers to compensate employees for accrued but unused leave when employment is terminated.
A statewide bill was introduced in both the 2014 and 2015 Maryland state legislative session, but it did not pass. According to Working Matters, a coalition of organizations supporting paid sick leave in Maryland, the bill will be re-introduced next session. Aside from Montgomery County, four states and 18 other cities across the nation have enacted similar paid sick leave laws. California, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Oregon are the only states to have enacted paid sick leave for their residents statewide.
On the other hand, 11 states have passed “preemption” laws that prevent cities and counties from enacting their own paid sick leave laws. These states include Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Wisconsin. Nationally, 38% of private sector employees have no access to paid sick leave. Although lawmakers have introduced bills that would mandate paid sick leave on the federal level, nothing has been passed through Congress.
To read the complete version of Bill 60-14, click here.
Newman, Katelyn. “Passage of sick leave bill buoys advocates.” The Daily Record 25 June 2015: 1A, 5A. Print.