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 law prohibits an employer from discriminating and retaliating against employees in a variety of protected classes. Employers must also provide pregnancy accommodations and allow wage discussions. See EEO, Diversity and Employee Relations.
  • Maryland allows preemployment drug tests, but limits credit checks. See Recruiting and Hiring.
  • In Maryland, there are requirements relating to the minimum wage, overtime and child labor. See Wage and Hour.
  • Maryland has laws that related to employee pay and benefits, including pay frequency, pay statements, wage notices, wage deductions and health care continuation. See Pay and Benefits.
  • Under Maryland law, employees are entitled to certain leaves or time off, including family leave, parental leave, paid sick leave, family military leave and Civil Air Patrol leave. See Time Off and Leaves of Absence.
  • Maryland law requires employers to provide a safe working environment for their employees. Maryland also prohibits smoking in the workplace and texting while driving. See Health and Safety.
  • When employment ends, Maryland employers must comply with applicable final pay and job reference requirements. See Organizational Exit.

Introduction to Employment Law in Maryland

Maryland has some laws that provide greater protections to employees than federal law, including pregnancy accommodation rights, a higher minimum wage and health care continuation coverage obligations for smaller employers, but generally follows federal law with respect to topics such as overtime pay, military leave and occupational safety.

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:

Fair Employment Practices

The Maryland Fair Employment Practices Act (FEPA) prohibits employers with 15 or more employees from discriminating on the basis of protected characteristics such as:

  • 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 the FEPA.

Pregnancy Accommodation

Under Maryland's Reasonable Accommodations for Disabilities Due to Pregnancy Act, an employer with 15 or more employees must provide reasonable accommodations to employees who are temporarily disabled due to pregnancy unless doing so would cause the employer an undue hardship. Reasonable accommodations include, but are not limited to:

  • Changing the employee's job duties;
  • Changing the employee's work hours;
  • Relocating the employee's work area;
  • Providing mechanical or electrical aids;
  • Transferring the employee to a less-hazardous or less-strenuous position; and
  • Providing a leave of absence.

Equal Pay

Maryland's Equal Pay for Equal Work law prohibits employers from paying a wage to employees of one sex or gender identity at a rate less than the rate paid to employees of another sex or gender identity if both employees work in the same establishment and perform comparable work. Employers are also prohibited from providing less favorable employment opportunities on the basis of an employee's sex or gender identity. The law permits pay differentials based on:

  • A nondiscriminatory seniority or merit increase system;
  • Jobs requiring different abilities, skills, duties or services;
  • Work performed on different shifts or at different times of day;
  • A system that measures performance based on quality or quantity of production; or
  • A bona fide factor other than sex or gender identity, including education, training or experience.

Discussion of Wages

Maryland prohibits an employer from taking an adverse employment action against an employee who inquires about, discusses or discloses his or her own wages or the wages of another, if those wages have been disclosed voluntarily. Employees who have regular access to wage information are not protected by the law, unless they obtain the wage information outside of their normal duties. An employer may maintain a written policy, establishing reasonable workday limitations on the time, place and manner for inquiries about or the discussion or disclosure of an employee's wages.

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 Checks

The Job Applicant Fairness Act generally prohibits a covered Maryland employer from using a credit report 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.

An employer must provide individuals with ritten notice if it uses their credit report or credit history for a job-related purpose.

Drug Testing

A Maryland employer may test applicants for drugs and alcohol, as long as it follows 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 the right to have the sample retested.

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 $10.10 per hour. 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.

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 nonworking 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 Minimum Wage: Maryland, Overtime: Maryland, Hours Worked: Maryland, Child Labor: Maryland, Maryland Workplace Labor and Employment Law Posters and Does This Law Apply to My Organization in Maryland? 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:

Payment of Wages

Maryland employers must pay wages in cash, or by check convertible on demand, at face value, into cash. Direct deposit and debit cards are permitted under certain circumstances.

Pay Frequency

An employer must set regular paydays and may pay employees biweekly or semimonthly. Less frequent paydays are permitted for exempt employees.

If a payday falls on a nonworking day, such as a weekend or legal holiday, wages must be paid on the preceding workday.

Pay Statements

For each pay period, an employer must give each employee a statement of his or her gross earnings and any deductions made.

Wage Notices

When an employee is hired, the employer must provide the employee with a notice of his or her pay rate, the regular paydays as set by the employer and any leave benefits to which the employee is entitled (e.g., vacation time). A notice must also be provided whenever an employee's pay rate or payday changes, at least one pay period in advance of the change.

Wage Deductions

Wage deductions are only allowed in specific circumstances, including deductions:

  • Made under a court order (e.g., garnishments);
  • 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
  • Authorized under federal or state law; and
  • Authorized in writing by the employee.

Health Care Continuation

Maryland's health care continuation coverage law 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.

Coverage generally may last up to 18 months.

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 benefits practices in Maryland can be found in Payment of Wages: Maryland, 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 Payment of Wages: Federal, Involuntary and Voluntary Pay Deductions: Federal and Health Care Continuation (COBRA): Federal.

Time Off and Leaves of Absence

Key Maryland requirements impacting time off and leaves of absence are:

Family and Medical Leave

Under the Maryland Flexible Leave Act (MFLA), an employer with 15 or more employees and that provides paid leave must allow an employee to use such 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.

Under the Parental Leave Act (PLA), 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.

The Maryland Healthy Working Families Act (MHWFA) requires an employer with 15 or more employees to provide paid sick and safe leave, while an employer with fewer than 15 employees must provide unpaid sick and safe leave.

An employee must work at least 12 hours per week to be eligible for leave. Sick and safe leave may be taken for the following reasons:

  • To care for or treat the employee's mental or physical illness, injury or condition;
  • To obtain preventive medical care for the employee or the employee's family member;
  • To care for a family member with a mental or physical illness, injury or condition;
  • Maternity or paternity leave; and
  • Reasons related to domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking committed against the employee or a family member.

Other Time Off Requirements Affecting Maryland Employers

In addition to the MFLA, PLA and MHWFA, a Maryland employer is also required to comply with other leave and time off laws, such as:

  • Family military leave (covering employers with 50 or more employees);
  • Military leave;
  • Civil Air Patrol leave (covering employers with 15 or more employees);
  • Jury duty leave;
  • Witness 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 time off and leave of absence practices in Maryland can be found in the Maryland Employee Handbook Table of Contents, FMLA: Maryland, Other Leaves: Maryland, Jury Duty: Maryland, USERRA: Maryland and Does This Law Apply to My Organization in Maryland? Federal requirements can be found in FMLA: Federal, Other Leaves: Federal, Jury Duty: Federal and USERRA: Federal.

Health and Safety

Key Maryland requirements impacting health and safety are:

Occupational Safety and Health

Maryland operates its job safety and health programs under an approved state plan. Under the Maryland Occupational Safety and Health Act, an 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.

Smoke-Free Workplace

Maryland requires all employers to ensure that there is no smoking in any indoor place of employment (e.g., restroom, conference, cafeteria, hallway). The law requires signage to be posted at each entrance stating that smoking is not permitted.

Safe Driving Practices

Texting and using handheld phones while driving are prohibited.

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 the Maryland Employee Handbook Table of Contents, HR and Workplace Safety: Maryland, Employee Health: Maryland, Maryland Workplace Labor and Employment Law Posters and Does This Law Apply to My Organization in Maryland? Federal requirements can be found in HR and Workplace Safety (OSHA Compliance): Federal and Employee Health: Federal.

Organizational Exit

Key Maryland requirements impacting organizational exit are:

Final Pay

Terminated employees must be paid all wages due by the next regular payday. An employer is not required to pay accrued leave to a terminated employee if certain policy and notification requirements are met.

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 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 Payment of Wages: Maryland, Employee Communications: Maryland and Does This Law Apply to My Organization in Maryland? Federal requirements can be found in Payment of Wages: Federal and Employee Communications: Federal.