What is the Sick Leave Law in Maryland?

August 31, 2017
The Law Firm of J.W. Stafford

Sick leave law has long been an important topic across the state. Although many may not give much thought to the legal aspect of sick leave, the issue of how to take care of yourself or family members becomes relevant the moment you receive unexpected medical news. This spring, both the Maryland house and senate passed the Maryland Healthy Working Families Act. However, Governor Larry Hogan vetoed the bill, which he called “job killing,” this past May.

If it had become law, the bill would have required employers with 15 or more employees to provide 40 hours of paid “sick and safe” leave annually. Employees would accrue sick and safe leave time at a rate of at least one hour for every 30 hours worked. Sick and safe leave would be available for employees to use for:

  • Their own mental or physical illness, injury or medical condition
  • Preventative care visits.
  • Maternity or paternity leave
  • Issues of domestic violence or sexual assault involving the employee or their close family member.
  • All of the same protections are available to allow the employee to care for their close family members.

The bill offered several exceptions to the sick leave requirement, exempting employers in situations where:

  • An employee regularly works less than 12 hours a week
  • Construction employees who are covered by a collective bargaining agreement that expressly waives the requirements of the law; and
  • Some “as-needed” employees in the health or human services industry

Changes Could Be On the Way

The good news is that the bill passed the house and senate by a “veto-proof” margin. Meaning that when they reconvene, the legislative body may successfully vote to override the Governor’s veto.

If the Maryland legislature overrides the veto when they reconvene in January 2018, then the Maryland Healthy Working Families Act would become law, giving greater protection to Maryland workers who face personal or family health issues. A recent survey by Pew Research found that most American employees want sick leave paid for by their employer. Companies that offer paid sick leave to their employers are able to attract top employees because of this important benefit.

For now, Maryland workers must manage with the Federal protections offered by the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which only provides workers with the option of unpaid leave for certain medical circumstances affecting the employee or their immediate family. Federal law does not require employers to provide paid sick leave.

Hopefully, the 2018 legislative session will bring the sick leave policies that the General Assembly passed for Maryland citizens. After all, the passage of this law could be a huge benefit to the overall health and wellbeing of employees throughout the state.

If you have questions about taking sick leave to care for yourself or your loved ones, the Law Firm of J.W. Stafford is here to help. Do not hesitate to contact  experienced Baltimore employment lawyer Jamaal (“Jay”) W. Stafford to talk about your options or call us at 410-514-6099. We are here to help ensure that your employer gives you all of the rights that you deserve.