Maryland Sick Leave Scramble

February 12, 2018

Maryland has become the ninth state to require employers to provide employees with sick leave. While the State Senate passed legislation to delay the effective date to July 2018 last week, that legislation did not pass the State House. As such, the effective date of this new requirement is February 11, 2018.

Maryland’s sick leave law is largely similar to other sick leave laws, but it does have some notable differences. Under the law, employers must provide sick and safe leave for employees (regardless of whether those employees are seasonal, temporary, part-time, or full-time). The leave can be front-loaded at the beginning of each year or accrued at a rate of one hour for every 30 hours worked by the employee. The front-loading or accrual must be effective January 1, 2018. Employees can carry over up to 40 hours of sick leave a year, however employers can cap total accrual and annual use of sick leave at 64 hours per year and are not required to pay out accrued, unused sick leave upon termination of employment. Employers with up to 14 employees must provide unpaid sick and safe leave, while employers of 15 or more employees must provide paid sick leave.

As with other sick leave laws, sick leave can be used to care for absences for illness and preventative medical care for the employee or the employee’s family member, and absences from work due to domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking committed against the employee or the employee’s family member. Additionally, Maryland employees can use sick leave for maternity or paternity leave.

Notably, the law does not apply to workers who regularly work less than 12 hours a week, and contains provisions limiting employees from accruing sick leave during periods in which they work fewer than an average of 12 hours per week.

Finally, while the law preempts local sick leave ordinances, it leaves in place the Montgomery County, Maryland paid sick leave ordinance, one of the more generous sick leave laws in the nation, which allows employees to accrue up to 56 hours of paid sick leave per year. Thus, employers with employees in Montgomery County need to revise their paid leave policies and practices to sync with both state and county leave requirements.