MD Sick Leave Law to be Effective Feb. 11

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The Maryland General Assembly has overridden Governor Hogan’s veto of legislation that will require employers to provide paid sick leave.  HB 1 of 2017 will become effective in 30 days, requiring employers to start accruing sick leave under the terms of the legislation as of Feb. 11, 2018.  Floor debate in the Senate made reference to possibly enacting emergency legislation to further delay the effective date of this law to give employers more time to comply, but no such legislation has been filed to date.

 The interaction of changes to state law, combined with local laws, require that your HR staff and payroll companies review these issues now.

  • Changes in State Law – As described in the May and June Maryland editions of At Issue, the Maryland General Assembly passed HB 1 at its 2017 session, however the bill was vetoed by Governor Hogan.  Although we believe that most AOBA members currently provide sick leave to their employees, few employers would currently meet all of the new requirements for covered family members, eligible uses of leave, coverage of part-time employees, leave accrual, and notice of leave balances on pay stubs.

The law will require employers with 15 or more employees to provide employees with at least 1 hour of sick leave for every 30 hours worked, to a maximum of 40 hours per year. Any existing plan that provides employees paid leave of similar amounts (PTO, vacation, sick) will qualify. Employers with fewer than 15 employees would be required to provide those amounts of unpaid sick leave. Employers are not required to allow more than 64 hours of sick leave to accrue and may prohibit the use of sick leave during the first 106 days of an employee’s service. The full amount of leave may be credited to the employee at the beginning of the year, rather than hourly accrual.

The bill applies to all employees who regularly work 12 hours or more in a week. Sick leave may be used for the mental or physical illness of the employee and extended family members, preventative care, maternity or paternity leave, and absences due to domestic or sexual assault or stalking.

  • Montgomery County Sick Leave Law – HB 1 will preempt any local government from enacting a law that regulates sick leave after Jan. 1, 2017.  However, as the Montgomery County sick leave law was enacted prior to that date, it would not be preempted by HB 1.  In many respects, the Montgomery County law provides more generous benefits than those required by HB 1.
  • Prince George’s County Sick Leave Legislation – Although the Prince George’s Council enacted an Earned Sick and Safe Leave (CB-87-2017) law last fall, the enactment of HB 1 will preempt that local legislation. 

Member Action:  AOBA members should take action now to review the state and local legislation to ensure that your sick leave policies will be compliant with the law by Feb. 11.  Your minimum sick leave policy will vary depending on where you do business:

  • If you only do business in Montgomery County – Your sick leave policy must currently be compliant with the Montgomery County law.  The Attorney General’s Office has advised  that where the Montgomery County law provides greater benefits than HB 1, the County law will prevail.  They further advised that where the Montgomery County law “conflicts” with HB 1, the state law will prevail.  However, given the multitude of substantive and procedural differences between the two laws, they offered little guidance regarding how to distinguish a “greater benefit” from a “conflict.”  The safest course is likely to follow the Montgomery County law wherever possible.

  • If you do business in Montgomery County and other counties – The Attorney General’s Office advised again to follow the Montgomery County law where it provides greater benefits, and HB 1 where there are conflicts in the laws.  Employers could attempt to have one sick leave policy for employees working only in Montgomery County, and a different policy for employees working only in other Maryland jurisdictions, but that would likely present an administrative nightmare.
  • If you only do business in Maryland counties outside of Montgomery County – Your sick leave policy would need to be compliant with HB 1.