Labor and Employment Law Overview: Maryland

Labor and Employment Law Overview requirements for other states

Federal law and guidance on this subject should be reviewed together with this section.

Author: XpertHR Editorial Team

Summary

  • Maryland prohibits an employer from discriminating and retaliating against employees based on protected classes. See EEO, Diversity and Employee Relations.
  • Maryland restricts preemployment screening in certain circumstances. See Recruiting and Hiring.
  • Maryland employers have specific requirements relating to the minimum wage, overtime, meal and rest breaks and child labor. See Wage and Hour.
  • Maryland law dictates some employee pay and benefit practices, including permissible pay deductions and health care continuation. See Pay and Benefits.
  • A Maryland employer may be required to provide employees with certain leaves of absence including adoption leave, pregnancy disability leave, and time off for jury duty. See Attendance and Leave.
  • Maryland law requires an employer to provide a safe working environment for its employees. See Health and Safety.
  • State law dictates the timing of a terminated employee's final paycheck, and could require payment for accrued paid time off. See Organizational Exit.

Introduction to Employment Law in Maryland

Maryland is considered an employee-friendly state.

Select Maryland employment requirements are summarized below to help an employer understand the range of employment laws affecting the employer-employee relationship in the state. An employer must comply with both federal and state law.

An employer must also comply with applicable municipal law obligations affecting the employment relationship, in addition to complying with state and federal requirements.

EEO, Diversity and Employee Relations

Key Maryland requirements impacting EEO, diversity and employee relations are:

The Maryland Fair Employment Practices Act

The Maryland Fair Employment Practices Act (FEPA) provisions apply to employers with 15 or more employees and include several classes protected from employer discrimination, including:

  • Race;
  • Color;
  • Religion;
  • Sex;
  • Sexual orientation;
  • Gender identity;
  • Age;
  • National origin/ancestry;
  • Marital status;
  • Disability unrelated to job performance; and
  • Genetic information.

Harassment is considered to be a form of discrimination under FEPA. Unlawful discrimination also includes discrimination in terms of compensation and compensation practices.

Pregnancy Discrimination

Under Maryland's Reasonable Accommodations for Disabilities Due to Pregnancy Act, an employer's policies related to leave and accrual of benefits (e.g., seniority) must be applied to pregnancy- or childbirth-related disabilities in the same manner the policies are applied to other disabilities. The law treats temporary disabilities caused or contributed to by pregnancy or childbirth as temporary disabilities for all job-related purposes and for purposes of temporary disability insurance or a sick leave plan.

Equal Pay and Wage Discrimination

Maryland's Equal Pay for Equal Work law, prohibits discrimination in wages based solely on sex. The law does not, however, prohibit pay differentials based on nondiscriminatory seniority or merit systems or on varying production requirements (e.g., different wages for jobs that require different abilities, skills, duties, services or work).

Retaliation

An employer may not discriminate or retaliate against any of its employees or applicants for employment because the individual has:

  • Filed a complaint or charge of discrimination;
  • Cooperated in an investigation of discrimination;
  • Testified against the employer; or
  • Exercised any right given to employees by statute.

Be aware that where there is overlap between federal, state and/or local law, complying with the law that offers the greatest rights or benefits to the employee will generally apply.

Additional information on EEO, diversity and employee relations practices in Maryland can be found in the Maryland Employee Handbook Table of Contents, EEO - Harassment: Maryland, EEO - Discrimination: Maryland, Disabilities (ADA): Maryland, EEO - Retaliation: Maryland, Maryland Workplace Labor and Employment Law Posters, and Does This Law Apply to My Organization in Maryland? Federal requirements can be found in EEO - Harassment: Federal, EEO - Discrimination: Federal, Disabilities (ADA): Federal and EEO - Retaliation: Federal.

Recruiting and Hiring

Key Maryland requirements impacting recruiting and hiring are:

Credit History

The Job Applicant Fairness Act generally prohibits a covered Maryland employer from using the credit report of an applicant or an employee to determine:

  • Whether to hire a job applicant;
  • Whether to terminate an employee; or
  • The rate of pay or other conditions of employment to offer an employee.

The Job Applicant Fairness Act provides a number of exceptions for financial institutions and those required by state or federal law to perform credit checks. The Act also requires an employer to provide job applicants or employees with written notice if the employer uses their credit report or credit history for a job-related purpose.

Drug and Alcohol Testing

A Maryland employer may test applicants and employees for drugs and alcohol, as long as employers following certain procedures.

In the event of a positive test result following a preliminary screening procedure, an employer must:

  • Send written notice to the applicant within 30 days of the positive test result;
  • Send a copy of the employer's drug and alcohol policy;
  • Send written notice of any disciplinary action the employer intends to take; and
  • Advise the applicant of his or her right to have the previous sample retested.

Genetic Testing

Maryland law prohibits an employer from requesting or requiring genetic tests or genetic information as a condition of employment. An employer may not take adverse action against an employee or an applicant for employment because they refuse to provide such information or submit to genetic tesing.

Lie Detector Tests

In Maryland, an employer may not require an individual to take a polygraph examination as a condition for employment, prospective employment, or continued employment. Applications must include specific language with respect to lie detector tests.

Be aware that where there is overlap between federal, state and/or local law, complying with the law that offers the greatest rights or benefits to the employee will generally apply.

Additional information on recruiting and hiring practices in Maryland can be found in Preemployment Screening and Testing: Maryland and Does This Law Apply to My Organization in Maryland?. Federal requirements can be found in Preemployment Screening and Testing: Federal.

Wage and Hour

Key Maryland requirements impacting wages and hours are:

Minimum Wage

Maryland's minimum wage is $8.75 per hour. It will be raised incrementally, topping out at $10.10 per hour on July 1, 2018.

A separate minimum wage rate exists for employees who receive tips.

Overtime

With certain exceptions, nonexempt employees must be paid one-and-one-half times their usual hourly rate for all hours worked in excess of 40 in a workweek.

Meal and Break Periods

In Maryland, if an employee is required to perform job duties during a meal period, that time counts as hours worked.

With some exceptions, certain retail employers must provide nonworking shift breaks to certain employees.

Child Labor

Child labor laws in Maryland restrict the occupations in which minors may be employed and the number of hours and times during which they may work.

All minors are generally prohibited from working in hazardous occupations, and minors under the age of 16 are prohibited from working in a variety of other occupations such as manufacturing.

With some exceptions, a minor may not be employed or permitted to work more than five consecutive hours without a non-working period of at least one half hour. Each day, the total school and work hours of a minor may not exceed 12 hours, and the minor must have at least eight consecutive hours that are not school or work hours.

Minors 14 and 15 years of age may not work before 7:00 a.m. or after 8:00 p.m. between Labor Day and Memorial Day. From Memorial Day to Labor Day, minors may work until 9:00 p.m. but no more than:

  • Four hours on any day when school is in session;
  • Eight hours on any day when school is not in session;
  • 23 hours in any week when school is in session for five days; and
  • 40 hours in any week when school is not in session.

Be aware that where there is overlap between federal, state and/or local law, complying with the law that offers the greatest rights or benefits to the employee will generally apply.

Additional information on wage and hour practices in Maryland can be found in the Maryland Employee Handbook Table of Contents, Minimum Wage: Maryland, Overtime: Maryland, Hours Worked: Maryland and Maryland Workplace Labor and Employment Law Posters. Federal requirements can be found in Minimum Wage: Federal, Overtime: Federal, Hours Worked: Federal and Child Labor: Federal.

Pay and Benefits

Key Maryland requirements impacting pay and benefits are:

Wage Deductions

Wage deductions are only allowed in specific circumstances, including:

  • Deductions made under a court order (e.g., garnishments);
  • Deductions authorized by the Maryland Division of Labor and Industry Commissioner because the employee has received full consideration for the deduction (e.g., long distance telephone calls on the employer's business phone, personal loans or wage advances); and
  • Deductions authorized under federal or state law.

Health Care Continuation

Maryland's health care continuation coverage law (mini-COBRA) requires that continuation coverage be offered to individuals who lose group coverage upon the occurrence of certain qualifying events such as:

  • Termination of employment;
  • Death of a covered employee; and
  • Divorce.

In order to be eligible, an employee must have been covered under the policy for at least three months prior to termination of employment. Continuation coverage must also be offered to covered dependents if they were covered under the group policy before the covered member's termination of employment.

Be aware that where there is overlap between federal, state and/or local law, complying with the law that offers the greatest rights or benefits to the employee will generally apply.

Additional information on pay and benefit practices in Maryland can be found in Involuntary and Voluntary Pay Deductions: Maryland, Health Care Continuation (COBRA): Maryland, Maryland Workplace Labor and Employment Law Posters and Does This Law Apply to My Organization in Maryland? Federal requirements can be found in Involuntary and Voluntary Pay Deductions: Federal and Health Care Continuation (COBRA): Federal.

Attendance and Leave

Key Maryland requirements impacting attendance and leave are:

Maryland Flexible Leave Act

Under Maryland's Flexible Leave Act (MFLA), an employer must allow an employee to use earned paid leave to care for an immediate family member (child, spouse or parent) who is ill. The MFLA does not require that an illness be serious in order to qualify for coverage. Additionally, the MFLA does not extend or limit the maximum leave period allowed under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act.

An employee is eligible for leave under the MFLA if he or she:

  • Works for an employer that has 15 or more employees;
  • Is primarily employed in the state; and
  • Works for an employer that provides leave with pay under the terms of a collective bargaining agreement or an employment policy.

Leave with pay is considered time away from work for which an employee is paid and includes:

  • Sick leave;
  • Vacation time;
  • Compensatory time; and
  • Paid time off.

Under the MFLA, an employee:

  • May only use leave with pay that has been earned;
  • May choose the type and amount of leave he or she wants to use if more than one type of leave is earned (i.e., may use sick leave rather than vacation time); and
  • Must still comply with any applicable collective bargaining agreement or employment policy.

An employer may not retaliate against an employee who exercises rights under the MFLA.

Parental Leave Act

Under the Parental Leave Act, an employer with 15 to 49 employees must allow eligible employees to take six workweeks of unpaid leave in any 12-month period for:

  • The birth of the employee's child; and
  • The placement of a child with the employee for adoption or foster care.

An employee is eligible if he or she requested parental leave and has worked:

  • For the employer for at least 12 months;
  • For 1,250 hours during the previous 12 months; and
  • Works at a worksite where at least 15 employees work within a 75-mile radius.

An employer may deny leave if the denial is necessary to prevent substantial and grievous economic injury to the employer's operations, so long as the employer notifies the employee of the denial prior to the beginning of the leave.

Other Leave Laws Affecting Maryland Employers

In addition to the state's parental and flexible leave laws, a Maryland employer is also required to comply with additional leave laws, including:

  • Family military leave (50 or more employees);
  • Adoption leave;
  • Pregnancy disability leave (15 or more employees);
  • Military leave;
  • Civil air patrol leave (15 or more employees);
  • Jury and Witness duty leave; and
  • Voting leave.

Be aware that where there is overlap between federal, state and/or local law, complying with the law that offers the greatest rights or benefits to the employee will generally apply.

Additional information on attendance and leave practices in Maryland can be found in the Maryland Employee Handbook Table of Contents, FMLA: Maryland, Other Leaves: Maryland, Jury Duty: Maryland, and Does This Law Apply to My Organization in Maryland? Federal requirements can be found in FMLA: Federal, Other Leaves: Federal and Jury Duty: Federal.

Health and Safety

Maryland operates its job safety and health programs under an approved state plan. Under the state's Occupational Safety and Health law, a Maryland employer is required to provide and maintain a safe and healthful workplace for its employees. For example, an employer must:

  • Maintain current lists of hazardous chemicals present on a job site;
  • Provide safety training in certain circumstances; and
  • Take certain measures to assure safety for employees who perform work within 10 feet of a high voltage wire.

Be aware that where there is overlap between federal, state and/or local law, complying with the law that offers the greatest rights or benefits to the employee will generally apply.

Additional information on health and safety practices in Maryland can be found in HR and Workplace Safety: Maryland and Maryland Workplace Labor and Employment Law Posters. Federal requirements can be found in HR and Workplace Safety (OSHA Compliance): Federal.

Organizational Exit

Key Maryland requirements impacting organizational exit are:

Final Paycheck

An employee must be paid his or her final paycheck on the next regularly scheduled payday following resignation or termination. An employer is not required to pay accrued leave to a terminated employee if the:

  • Employer has a written policy limiting the compensation of accrued leave to current employees;
  • Employer notified the terminated employee of its leave policy at the time of hire; and
  • Employee is not entitled to payment of accrued leave at termination under the terms of the employer's written policy.

Reductions in Force

In Maryland, an employer with 50 employees or more is encouraged, but not required, to provide 90 days' voluntary notice for plant closings and relocations that involve at least 25 percent of the workforce or 15 employees, over any three-month period.

References

Maryland provides qualified immunity for an employer that provides information about a former employee in response to a reference request. An employer acting in good faith will not be liable for disclosing any information about the job performance or the reason for termination of a former employee to a prospective employer under the following circumstances:

  • At the request of the prospective employer;
  • At the request of the employee or former employee; or
  • If requested or required by a federal, state or industry regulatory authority.

Be aware that where there is overlap between federal, state and/or local law, complying with the law that offers the greatest rights or benefits to the employee will generally apply.

Additional information on organizational exit practices in Maryland can be found in Process of Termination: Maryland, Payment of Wages: Maryland, Involuntary Terminations: Maryland and Employee Communications: Maryland. Federal requirements can be found in Process of Termination: Federal, Payment of Wages: Federal, Involuntary Terminations: Federal and Employee Communications: Federal.