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Heads Up - Maryland Healthy Working Families Act Passed

The New Maryland Healthy Working Families Act passed on February 11, 2018. Since that time, the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation has been working hard to make employers aware of the new requirements the law has for Maryland employers. Askey, Askey & Associates is also committed to understanding the new law and advising our clients on the ways it will affect Maryland employers and their employees. Here are some important things you need to know about the new law.

Employer’s subject to the law:

If an employer employs 15 or more employees, they must provide paid sick and safe leave at the employee’s normal wage rate.

If an employer employs 14 or fewer employees, they must at least provide an employee with unpaid sick and safe leave.

For purposes of the employee count, all part-time, full-time, temporary and seasonal employees are included in the employee count. The employer uses the average monthly employees for the preceding 12-month period to get the employee count.

Exemptions from the law for paid leave:

  • Anyone under age 18 prior to 1/1/18
  • Anyone employed in agricultural operations
  • Anyone who regularly works less than 12 hours/week
  • Employees in the construction industry covered by a collective bargaining agreement which waives the requirements of this law
  • Health or Human Services employees called on an as-needed basis
  • Independent contractors
  • Real estate brokers

Amount of leave required by law:

The employer is required to accrue at least one (1) hour of leave for every thirty (30) hours worked. Employers can cap the maximum amount of leave at 40 hours per year. Employers with accrual policies are required to allow employees to roll over up to 40 hours of unused, accrued leave at the end of the year. Employers can cap the amount of sick and safe leave available for use in a calendar year at 64 hours.

Employers who make the full forty (40) hours available at the start of the calendar year are not required to roll over accrued leave.

Waiting period:

Employers must begin accruing leave at the date of hire or effective date of the law, whichever is later. Employers can require that employees be employed for 106 calendar days before using the leave.

Existing Sick leave and Vacation leave policies:

If the employer has an existing policy for sick leave and vacation leave that is equal to or greater than the minimum leave required by law, the employer is allowed to combine the leave into a general PTO (paid time off) policy for all paid leave. In this case, the employer would need to revise their leave policies to include the allowable uses of the leave under the new law. Important Note: Employers may already have a policy that provides more than 40 hours of sick and safe leave per year but under the law the accrual may not be fast enough. Employers should check their current accrual rates to be sure they comply with the law.

Absences covered under the new law:

  • To care for or treat the employee’s mental or physical illness, injury or condition.
  • To obtain preventative care for the employee or a family member
  • To care for a family member with a mental or physical illness, injury or condition.
  • For maternity or paternity leave.
  • If the absence is necessary due to domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking against the employee or a family member.

Employers are required to notify their employees of the following:

  • Employers must have policies stating how leave is accrued and the permissible uses.
  • The policies must include anti-retaliation language and advise employees how to seek redress if employers do not comply.
  • Employers are required to post a workplace poster including information about the Act.A link to the poster is available at the end of this newsletter.
  • Paystubs and pay records must include the amount of leave used and the amount of leave available.

Record Retention:

Employers must keep records of each employee’s earned sick and safe leave accrued and used for at least three (3) years.

Helpful links:

State of Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation – Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s):

http://www.dllr.md.gov/paidleave/paidleavefaqs.pdf

Maryland Earned Sick and Safe Leave Employee Notice Poster:

http://www.dllr.maryland.gov/paidleave/paidleaveposter.pdf