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Virginia, Maryland, and District of Columbia 2017 Employment Law Brief

Published by and on February 6, 2018

A brief summary of employment laws enacted in 2017 affecting employers in the DMV area.

2017 brought significant changes for how employers manage employees and their businesses in Virginia, Maryland, and the District of Columbia. In “Virginia, Maryland, District of Columbia 2017 Law Update,” we compiled a list of 2017 laws affecting employers in the DMV area. Below are a few highlights discussed in the 2017 Law Update.

Following state and local trends, both Maryland and D.C. enacted statewide paid sick leave. Maryland’s Healthy Working Families Act provides for mandatory employee paid sick and safe leave for employee need or designated family member need. While the bill was originally vetoed Governor Larry Hogan in 2017, the Maryland General Assembly overrode the governor’s veto. The Maryland paid sick leave mandate is expected to take effect February 11, 2018. D.C. also enacted paid sick leave under the Universal Paid Sick Leave Act. The Act will fund the paid leave through an employer payroll tax hike. While D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser did not sign the bill into law, she did not veto the paid family leave bill, allowing the bill to become law in 2017. The D.C. law will begin collecting tax revenue on July 1, 2019, and leave benefits may be taken beginning July 1, 2020.

Both Maryland and D.C. increased their statewide or district-wide minimum wage in 2017. Effective July 1, 2018, D.C. will raise its minimum wage from $12.50 per hour to $13.25 per hour. Also effective July 1, 2018, Maryland’s statewide minimum wage will increase from $9.25 per hour to $10.10 per hour. Both increases are well above the federally mandated minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. Further, Montgomery County, Maryland, located just north of D.C., also increased its mandated minimum wage from $11.50 per hour to $15.00 per hour. The increase is expected to phase in over the course of several years, with the smaller employers not reaching $15.00 per hour until 2024.

Traditionally more conservative in these areas, Virginia did not enact mandatory paid sick leave legislation or increase the statewide minimum wage in 2017. Currently in its 2018 legislative session, the Virginia General Assembly will consider bills proposing both paid sick leave and increases in minimum wage from January 2018 to April 2018. Virginia did, however, mandate that employers and payroll service providers report all breaches in payroll data to the Virginia Office of the Attorney General. Additionally, the Virginia Commissioner of Labor and Industry may now assess nearly double the civil penalties for Virginia Occupational Safety and Health violations. Additionally, former Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe signed the Executive Order mandating that all future state contractors with the State Executive Branch must agree to a non-discrimination policy that includes non-discrimination based on sexual orientation.

In addition to the above mentioned, there were workers’ compensation updates, state occupational safety additions, data security improvements, and prohibitions on employers’ use of prospective or current employees’ credit information all in 2017. Check out the 2017 Law Update here.

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