Mid-Atlantic Health Law TOPICS

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Mandatory Paid Sick/Safe Leave

Maryland has joined the wave of states and municipalities that have enacted mandatory paid sick/safe leave by passing the Healthy Working Families Act (HWFA), which took effect on February 11, 2018.

Below is a list of fast facts about the HWFA.

  1. Employers of 15 or more employees must provide paid sick and safe leave as required by the law.
  2. Employers of 14 or fewer employees must “at least” provide employees with unpaid sick or safe leave at the levels required by the law.
  3. Most employees who regularly work more than 12 hours a week are eligible for leave.
  4. Covered employers must provide leave at a rate of at least 1 hour for every 30 hours an employee works, up to 40 hours of paid leave in a year. 
  5. Employees must be allowed to accrue up to 64 hours of sick and safe leave at any one time, and use up to 64 hours of earned sick and safe leave in a year.
  6. Employees must be allowed to carry over up to 40 hours of their earned sick and safe leave to the following year, unless the employer awards the full amount of leave at the start of each year.
  7. Employers are not required to pay out unused sick and safe leave upon termination of employment. 
  8. An employee may use earned sick and safe leave to cover an illness or injury, or an incidence of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking of the employee or a family member. Leave may also be used for maternity/paternity. 
  9. “Family members” include the employee’s spouse, parents, parents in-law, children, grandparents, grandchildren and siblings.
  10. Eligible employees begin to accrue leave upon hiring, but employers may prohibit use of leave during the first 106 days of employment.
  11. Existing paid leave plans may be used so long as the policy meets the HWFA’s minimum accrual requirements, and permits employees to use paid leave as required by the law. 
  12. Employers are prohibited from interfering with an employee’s exercise of his or her rights under the HWFA, or taking any adverse action against an employee because the employee exercises rights under the law. 
  13. The law requires employers to provide employees with written notice of their rights under the law, and notice of their leave balance each pay period. 
  14. The Maryland Commissioner of Labor and Industry may enforce the law and impose civil penalties, and employees may bring a civil action to enforce an order of the Commissioner.
  15. Owners and managers who formulate or implement employer practices that affect an employee’s rights under the law may face personal liability.

Charles R. Bacharach
410-576-4169 • cbacharach@gfrlaw.com