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Maryland Healthy Working Families Act: FAQ For Employers

Earlier this year, our firm wrote about Maryland’s Healthy Working Families Act, set to take effect February 11, 2018.  We have spent a good part of this past week  advising clients  working to quickly review and revise leave policies to bring them into compliance with the Act.  Here you will find answers to some of the most frequently asked questions surrounding the new sick leave requirements.

Do I Have to Offer Paid Sick Leave?

  • Employers with 15 or more employees must provide employees with at least one hour of paid sick and safe leave for every 30 hours that an employee works.

What If I Have Less Than 15 Employees?

  • Employers with fewer than 15 employees must provide employees with at least one hour of unpaid sick and safe leave for every 30 hours that an employee works.
  • Total employees is based on the number of employees who work in the State of Maryland.

Are Part-time Employees Eligible for Leave?

  • Employees who regularly work more than 12 hours a week are eligible for sick and safe leave.

Do Employees Accrue Leave For Work In Another State?

  • If an employee works primarily in another state but performs work in Maryland that is incidental to work performed elsewhere, the employee does not accrue sick and safe leave for work performed in Maryland.
  • If an employee performs a majority of work in Maryland, the employee is entitled to accrue sick and safe leave for all hours worked, including incidental work performed in another state.

When Does Accrual of Leave Begin And How Soon Can It Be Used?

  • Accrual of leave begins on February 11, 2018.
  • Employees employed for at least 106 days may use leave as it is accrued.
  • Employees hired after February 11, 2018, and those employed less than 106 days as of February 11, 2018, may begin using leave 106 days from their date of hire.

Can I Front Load Leave As an Alternative to the Accrual Method?

  • Employers have the option to “front load” 40 hours of sick and safe leave at the beginning of the year.
  • Front-loaded leave is available for immediate use but employees need not be permitted to carry it over from year to year.
  • Employers can determine their own year for purposes of leave calculation.

Do Employers With A Combined Leave Policy Have to Provide Additional Leave?

  • If an existing sick leave or PTO policy provides leave in an amount equal to or greater than provided for under the Act, and the terms of leave usage are equal or better, then no additional leave is required to be provided.  Keep in mind, however, that the leave must be available for use under the same terms as that required by the Act, meaning, for example,  no additional notice or verification requirements may be imposed, nor may it be treated as an occurrence under an absenteeism control policy.
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