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New Maryland Flexible Leave Act

Published by on June 27, 2008

On May 26, 2008, Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley signed the Maryland “Flexible Leave Act” into law.  Under the Act, which is effective October 1, 2008, Maryland businesses employing 15 or more employees must allow their employees to use any form of accrued leave (vacation, sick leave or compensatory time) with pay to care for a […]

On May 26, 2008, Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley signed the Maryland “Flexible Leave Act” into law.  Under the Act, which is effective October 1, 2008, Maryland businesses employing 15 or more employees must allow their employees to use any form of accrued leave (vacation, sick leave or compensatory time) with pay to care for a child, spouse or parent who is ill.

Under the Act, only employers that provide leave with pay to their employees are required to comply.  Employers who do not provide paid leave as an employee benefit are not required to implement paid leave programs to comply with the law. To the extent that an employee has more than one form of paid leave available, the employee has the right to elect the type and amount of leave with pay to be used.  If possible, the new leave must comply with the terms of an employment policy or bargaining agreement. 

The Act includes an anti-retaliation provision, prohibiting employers from taking an adverse action, or threatening to take such action, against an employee who exercises rights under the Act or who complains about any violations of the Act or participates in an investigation or legal action arising out of such complaints.

While the Act does not affect any leave granted under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act, employers can expect to see many claims analogous to those brought under the FMLA brought under this Act such as what type of illness must the family member suffer to trigger coverage under the Flexible Leave Act, as well as notice and verification issues.

With the enactment of the Flexible Leave Act, Maryland employers should review their paid leave policies and inform their Human Resources employees about the Act.  Leave policies for Maryland employers should be updated to reflect that any form of accrued leave with pay can be taken for purposes of caring for an immediate family member who is ill.

Contributed by Michael K. Wilson

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