All Employers Must Provide Sick and Safe Leave Under New Maryland Law

On Friday, January 12, 2018, Maryland joined eight other states and the District of Columbia requiring employers to provide sick and safe leave to their employees.

The Maryland Healthy Working Families Act, the name of Maryland’s earned sick and safe leave law, takes effect on February 11, 2018. We will update you if the legislature acts to extend the effective date of this legislation.

The Act requires employers with 15 or more employees to provide all of their employees who work at least 12 hours per week with a minimum of 40 hours of paid sick leave per year. Employers may provide the 40 hours of paid leave:

  • In a lump sum at the beginning of the year; or
  • Through accrual over the course of the year at a rate of one hour of leave for every 30 hours worked.

Note that tipped employees must be paid at least the minimum wage for paid sick and safe leave.

Employers with fewer than 15 employees are not off the hook – they are required to provide 40 hours of unpaid sick and safe leave on the same lump sum or accrual basis.

The Maryland General Assembly passed the Healthy Working Families Act legislation in spring 2017, however, Governor Larry Hogan vetoed the bill. When the General Assembly reconvened for the 2018 session on January 10, it immediately took up the issue, and on January 12, it successfully overrode the veto. The Act goes into effect quickly – in only 30 days – because of the veto override.

It is important to note that the Healthy Working Families Act only preempts sick and safe leave laws enacted by local jurisdictions in Maryland after January 1, 2017. Thus, Prince George’s County’s Earned Sick and Safe Leave law, which was passed in December 2017, is preempted. The Montgomery County Sick and Safe Leave Act, however, will remain effective as it was passed in June of 2015 and went into effect in October of 2016. Thus, employers in Montgomery County must comply with the more generous of the requirements set forth in the state and the Montgomery County laws.

So what does an employer have to do to comply with the Healthy Working Families Act? How should Montgomery County employers adjust their policies and practices to comply with both laws? We’ve compiled a checklist of all the requirements at “A Primer for Employers to Comply with the Maryland Sick and Safe Leave Act.” This checklist includes explanations for where the Montgomery County law differs from the Maryland law so that Montgomery County employers know how to comply with both laws.

Employers should take steps now to revise their policies and practices in accordance with the Maryland law and distribute these to employees. Montgomery County employers should do the same where the Maryland law provides greater benefits than the Montgomery County law.

Julie Reddig is an employment attorney who represents management in workplace employment matters. For more information on the Maryland Healthy Working Families Act, contact Julie at [email protected].