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Maryland May Be Next to Add Paid Sick Leave

Published by and on May 11, 2017

Maryland’s General Assembly passed the “Maryland Healthy Working Families Act.” If Governor Larry Hogan approves the Act, Maryland will become the 8th State to require employers to provide paid sick leave.

Maryland’s General Assembly passed the “Maryland Healthy Working Families Act.” If Governor Larry Hogan approves the Act, Maryland will become the 8th State to require employers to provide paid sick leave.

Originally introduced in 2016, the General Assembly of Maryland finally passed the Maryland Healthy Working Families Act (the Act”) in early April 2017. After the Maryland House of Delegates and Senate vote, the General Assembly sent the Act to Maryland Governor Larry Hogan for final approval. While Governor Logan has made some indication that he will veto the Act, the House and Senate could override his veto in January 2018. Governor Logan must sign or veto the bill no later than May 30, 2017. If signed into law by Governor Logan, the Act would become effective January 1, 2018.

The Act requires employers with fifteen (15) or more employees to provide those employees with earned sick and safe leave. Employees could earn up to forty (40) hours of paid sick and safe leave annually. Smaller employers, those with fourteen (14) or fewer employees, would be required to allow employees to earn up to forty (40) hours of unpaid sick and safe leave. Employees would accrue no less than one (1) hour of leave for every thirty (30) hours worked. Under the Act, any accrued paid leave must be paid at the same wage rate as the employee regularly earns.

The Act provides that employers must allow employees to use sick and safe leave under the following circumstances:

  • To care for or treatment of employee’s mental or physical illness;
  • To obtain preventative medical treatment for the employee or the employee’s family members;
  • To care for a family member with a mental or physical illness, injury, or condition;
  • For maternity or paternity leave; or
  • For necessary absences resulting from domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking committed against the employee or the employee’s family member.

Under the Act, a family member includes an employee’s child, parent, spouse, grandparent, grandchild, and sibling.

While the Act’s coverage is expansive, some modifications during the Senate’s reading of the bill eased the burden on employers:

  • Covered “employees” are employees who regularly work twelve (12) or more hours per week;
  • Construction industry employees are not covered if they are under a collective bargaining agreement that expressly waives sick or safe leave requirements under the Act; and
  • Covered employees must be on the payroll for a minimum of 106 days in order to qualify for sick or safe leave.

Once the Act becomes effective, whether signed into law by Governor Logan or passed by override vote, Maryland will join Arizona, California, Connecticut, District or Columbia, Massachusetts, Oregon, Vermont and Washington, all requiring employers to offer paid sick leave. In addition to these states and D.C., several localities across the country require employers to provide employees with some form of paid sick leave.

Welter Insight

Whether signed into law and effective on January 1, 2018, or passed by Maryland General Assembly in an override vote later in January 2018, the Maryland Healthy Working Families Act will alter Maryland employers’ duty to provide employees with mandatory sick and safe leave. Covered employers should take the remainder of 2017 to prepare an updated sick leave program that complies with the Act.

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