The Maryland General Assembly has passed legislation expanding Maryland’s Flexible Leave Act (MFLA) to apply to bereavement leave. The legislation now goes to Governor Hogan’s desk for signature.
The MFLA has required that Maryland private sector employers with at least 15 employees who provide paid leave to their employees allow an employee to use earned paid leave to care for immediate family members (children, spouse, and parents) with an illness. The provision allows an employee to use paid leave to care for an immediate family member under the same conditions and rules that would apply for an employee’s own illness.
Employees who are primarily employed in Maryland are covered by the MFLA. Employers are covered if they employ 15 or more employees for each working a day in each of twenty or more calendar weeks in the current or preceding year.
Effective October 1, 2021, the MFLA requires covered employers to permit employees to use paid leave for bereavement purposes, meaning leave “to use on the death of a member of the employee’s immediate family.”
Paid leave is “paid time away from work that is earned and available to an employee based on hours worked” or granted annually in a fixed amount, and includes sick and vacation leave, paid time off, personal leave, and compensatory time. 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 accrued, unused leave to be used.
For leave to care for an immediate family member, “child” is defined as an adopted, biological, or foster child; stepchild; or legal ward who is either younger than 18 or at least 18 years old and incapable of self-care due to a mental or physical disability.
The definition of “child” is broader for bereavement leave — “child” means all children of an employee, including adult children, regardless of whether the adult child is capable of self-care.
Employers are prohibited from discriminating and retaliating against employees who exercise rights under the MFLA or file a complaint, testify against, or assist in an action against an employer for a violation of the Act.