Under the Maryland Healthy Working Families Act (aka “Maryland’s paid sick and safe leave law”) passed on January 12, 2018, all Maryland businesses with 15 or more employees (including part-time, seasonal and temporary employees regularly working a minimum of 12 hours per week and calculated based on the average monthly number of employees over the preceding 12 months) must offer 1 hour of sick and safe leave to its employees for every 30 hours worked, up to 5 paid days (40 hours) of leave per year. Employers are, of course, free to offer more accrued leave than 40 hours per year, according to their own employment policies. In lieu of accruing leave over pay periods during the course of the year, employers may award the full 40 hours of leave at the beginning of the year. It is important to note that employers may use paid time off (PTO) policies under the new law, provided that those policies meet the Act’s specific requirements.
Those who earn sick and safe leave throughout the year can carry over up to 40 hours of unused sick and safe leave to the following year, but employers may cap the total accrued amount to 64 hours at any time; provided, however, that if an employer awards the full amount of leave to employees at the beginning of the year, the employer does not have to allow employees to carry over any unused leave. In addition, employers may prohibit an employee from using this leave during the first 106 days of employment and employers are not required to pay out unused sick and safe leave to an employee upon termination.
Sick and save leave may be used by employees (i) for the immediate, ongoing or preventive care of their own or a family member’s physical or mental condition, illness or injury, (ii) for maternity or paternity leave, or (iii) to address domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking of the employee or a family member. Employers may limit an employee’s use of sick and safe leave to 64 hours in a year. If an employee’s need to use earned sick and safe leave is foreseeable, an employer may require reasonable advance notice (not more than 7 days).
Under the Act, employers are obligated to notify employees of their rights and must provide a written statement to employees each pay period that includes the individual employee’s amount of earned leave. Records of accrued and used leave must be maintained by employers for a minimum of 3 years.
Lastly, it is important to note that under the new law, businesses with 14 employees or less are also required to offer employees unpaid sick and safe leave.