On April 5, 2017, the Maryland General Assembly passed the Maryland Healthy Working Families Act (the “Act”) which, if approved by Governor Larry Hogan, would require employers with 15 or more employees to provide their employees with 40 hours of paid sick and safe leave annually beginning on January 1, 2018. Smaller employers, i.e., those employers with 14 or fewer employees, would be required to provide their employees with 40 hours of unpaid sick and safe leave annually. Under the Act, employees would accrue sick and safe leave at a rate of at least one hour for every 30 hours worked.
Employers would be required to allow employees to 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 the 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 in situations where the absence is necessary due to domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking committed against the employee or the employee’s family member. A family member includes the employee’s children, parents, spouse, grandparents, grandchildren and siblings.
The Act, however, contains exceptions and would not apply to:
- Employees who regularly work less than 12 hours a week;
- Employees who are employed in the construction industry and are covered by a collective bargaining agreement that expressly waives the requirements of the law; and
- Certain “as-needed” employees in a health or human services industry.
In addition, employers would not be required to allow employees to:
- Use more than 64 hours of sick and safe leave in a year;
- Accrue more than 64 hours at any time; or
- Use sick and safe leave during the first 106 calendar days that the employee works for the employer (although leave must accrue during this initial employment period).
Pursuant to the Maryland Constitution, the Act must be presented to Governor Hogan by April 30, 2017, and the Governor must sign or veto the bill by May 30, 2017. Although Governor Hogan has threatened to veto the bill, both the Maryland House and Senate passed the legislation with enough votes to override such a veto. Should Governor Hogan veto the bill, Maryland lawmakers likely will not have the opportunity to override the veto until next year’s legislative session, which begins on January 10, 2018, because this year’s 90-day legislative session ended on April 10, 2017.
If the Act becomes law, Maryland would become the eighth state to require employers to provide paid sick leave.