Maryland Healthy Working Families Act

On January 12, 2018 the Maryland General Assembly voted to override Governor Hogan’s veto of the “Maryland Healthy Working Families Act” that will require Maryland employers to provide “Earned Sick and Safe Leave” (ESS) to employees. The law will go into effect on February 11, 2018 unless the General Assembly acts to delay its implementation.

The Act requires Maryland businesses with at least 15 employees (regardless of whether those employees are full-time, part-time, temporary, or seasonal) to offer paid sick and safe leave. Businesses with 14 employees or fewer must provide unpaid sick and safe leave.

Employers must offer leave accrual at the rate of one hour for every 30 hours worked or award the entire 40 hours at the beginning of each year.

The Act does not apply to workers who:

  • Regularly work fewer than 12 hours a week;
  • Are under the age of 18;
  • Are independent contractors;
  • Work in the agricultural sector on an agricultural operation; or
  • Work on an as-needed basis in the health or human services industry.

For eligible employees, the employer must provide paid leave allowing them to:

  • Care for the physical or mental health of the employee or a family member;
  • Take maternity or paternity leave; or
  • Obtain relief in response to domestic or sexual assault of the employee or a family member.

Additionally, employees can carry over up to 40 hours of paid leave a year. Employers can cap use of paid leave at 64 hours per year.

Employers must notify employees of their rights under the Act. The state Commissioner of Labor and Industry is directed to create a model notice. Further, employers must provide a written statement to their employees each pay period when wages are paid that details each individual employee’s amount of earned leave available for use.

Employers also must keep a record, for at least three years, of all earned leave accrued and used by each employee.

The Act permits employees to file complaints and provides a civil cause of action for alleged violations, including retaliation for using accrued leave. Successful employees may receive an award of treble damages, punitive damages, attorneys’ fees, and injunctive relief.

For questions or more information, please reach out to our General Counsel, Andrew Beardall, Esq.