Maryland Paid Sick Leave Law Passed Over Governor's Veto

Author: Robert S. Teachout, XpertHR Legal Editor

UPDATE: A bill to delay the enforcement of the Maryland Healthy Working Families Act for 60 days failed to pass the General Assembly, meaning the law became effective on February 11, 2018. The Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation has published FAQs on its website to provide general information to employers and employees about the requirements of the law.

January 17, 2018

The Maryland General Assembly has voted to override Governor Larry Hogan's veto of a 2017 bill to enact the Maryland Healthy Working Families Act (HWFA). The governor had vetoed the bill at the end of the 2017 legislative session, stating that its one-size-fits-all approach would harm small businesses. The law is the ninth statewide paid sick leave law in the nation. Other states to have passed such measures include:

  • Arizona;
  • California;
  • Connecticut;
  • Massachusetts;
  • Oregon;
  • Rhode Island;
  • Vermont; and
  • Washington.

The new Maryland law requires employers with 15 or more employees to provide employees with earned sick and safe leave that is paid at an employee's normal wage rate (tipped employees are not required to be paid more than the minimum wage rate for their earned leave time). Employers of fewer than 15 employees must provide unpaid earned sick and safe leave.

An employee must work at least 12 hours a week regularly to be eligible for leave under the HWFA. Employees will accrue one hour of sick and safe leave for every 30 hours they work up to a maximum of 40 hours per year, with a cap of 64 hours at any time of banked leave (accrued and carried over from the previous year). Employees will begin accruing earned sick leave immediately, but cannot use earned sick leave until they have worked for the employer for at least 106 calendar days. Annual leave usage is limited to 64 hours.

Employees may use sick and safe leave:

  • To care for or treat the employee's own mental or physical illness, injury or condition;
  • To obtain preventative medical care for the employee or employee's family members;
  • To care for a family member with a mental or physical illness, injury or condition;
  • For maternity or paternity leave; or
  • Where the absence is necessary due to domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking committed against the employee or the employee's family member.

Family member includes an employee's spouse, children, parents, grandparents, grandchildren and siblings.

The HWFA also preempts local paid sick leave laws, but carves out an exemption for any local law that provides greater benefits and was passed before January 1, 2017. This exemption preserves the Montgomery County's paid leave law, which was enacted in 2015 and became effective in 2016.

The law is scheduled to go into effect on February 11, 2018, but procedural issues related to having to override the veto may delay the effective date.