Starting this month, Maryland employers will be dealing with a new law addressing paid sick leave or safe leave.
Called the Healthy Working Families Act (HWFA), the new law enables Maryland employees to have paid sick leave—for their physical health, mental health, injury, sick covered family members, maternity/paternity leave, as well as leave for violence (domestic or sexual). It also offers paid safe leave to address situations involving personal safety, such as domestic violence. The law covers spouses and children, and other family members, such as parents, siblings, grandparents, and grandchildren. The law extends to adopted, foster, and stepfamily members as well. Sick and safe leave is accrued and the pay is equivalent to the employee’s standard salary.
The Maryland legislature moved to enact the law last year, but Gov. Larry Hogan later vetoed that bill. The veto was overridden last month by state legislature. It goes into effect on February 11.
Under the new law, any Maryland employers with 15 or more employees are required to provide their employees with at least one hour paid leave for every 30 hours worked. Employees can receive up to a maximum of 40 hours of paid leave per year. Employers with less than 15 employees must provide up to a maximum of 40 hours of unpaid leave annually for employees. Employers may of course choose to be more generous in the amount of leave an employee may earn.
The new law will not apply to some workers, including:
- workers that regularly work less than 12 hours week
- workers under the age of 18
- workers in the construction industry and covered by a collective bargaining agreement that explicitly waives sick and safe leave in clear and unambiguous terms
- workers that are on-call in the health or human services industry that can reject or accept a shift, not guaranteed to be called for work and not employed by a temporary staffing agency
- workers employed by a temporary staffing agency to provide services to another if the agency does not have day to day control over and supervision of such workers or workers directly employed by an employment agency to provide part-time or temporary work
Maryland becomes the ninth state to have paid sick leave laws. Other states with similar paid sick laws are Arizona, California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington. Washington, D.C. also has its own paid sick leave law. While this is not required on a federal level, states in recent years have taken their own actions to make paid sick leave law. While other aspects of the law that separate Maryland from the other states that have adopted paid sick leave, it’s indicative of a growing trend.