Maryland Family and Medical Leave

In Maryland, employees may take leave under the federal FMLA; state law grants additional rights.

By , Attorney UCLA School of Law
Updated 5/29/2024

Like employers in every state, Maryland employers must follow the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which allows eligible employees to take unpaid leave, with the right to reinstatement, to attend to certain health and family matters.

In addition, Maryland has its own family and medical leave laws, which generally apply to smaller employers than the FMLA does. Maryland also requires employers to provide employees with up to eight days of sick and safe leave.

Federal FMLA Rights

Maryland employees who are eligible may take up to 12 weeks of leave for serious health conditions, bonding with a new child, or preparation for a family member's military service; more leave is available for employees who need to care for a family member who was seriously injured on active military duty. For detailed information on FMLA leave, see Taking Family and Medical Leave.

Who Is Covered?

Maryland employers are subject to the FMLA if they have at least 50 employees for at least 20 weeks in the current or previous year.

Employees are eligible for FMLA leave if:

  • they have worked for the company for at least a year
  • they worked at least 1,250 hours during the previous year, and
  • they work at a location with at least 50 employees within a 75-mile radius.

Reasons for Leave

FMLA leave is available if an employee needs time off to:

  • bond with a new child
  • recuperate from a serious health condition
  • care for a family member with a serious health condition
  • handle qualifying exigencies arising out of a family member's military service, or
  • care for a family member who suffered a serious injury during active duty in the military. (You can find more information on these last two types of leave in Military Family Leave for Employees.)

How Much Leave Is Available?

Maryland employees may take up to 12 weeks of leave in a 12-month period for a serious health condition, bonding with a new child, or qualifying exigencies. This leave is available every 12 months, as long as the employee continues to meet the eligibility requirements explained above.

Employees may take up to 26 weeks of leave in a single 12-month period for military caregiver leave. However, this is a per-injury, per-service member entitlement. Unless the same family member is injured again, or another family member suffers an injury while on active duty, an employee may not take additional leave for this purpose.

Leave and Reinstatement Rights

Employees are entitled to continue their health insurance while on leave, at the same cost they must pay while working. FMLA leave is unpaid, but employees may be allowed (or required) to use their accrued paid leave during FMLA leave.

When an employee's FMLA leave ends, the employee is entitled to be reinstated to the same or an equivalent position, with a few exceptions.

Maryland Family and Medical Leave Laws

Maryland has its own family and medical leave laws that generally apply to small to medium-sized employers. Some employers may be covered by both the FMLA and Maryland state laws. Maryland also has a family military leave law that applies to large employers.

In addition to these extended leave laws, Maryland requires employers to provide their employees with up to eight days of sick and safe leave, which is either paid or unpaid depending on the size of the employer.

Maryland Parental Leave Act

Maryland's Parental Leave Act (PLA) requires employers that have between 15 and 49 employees to provide eligible employees with six work-weeks of unpaid parental leave benefits, during any 12-month period, for the birth, adoption, or foster placement of a child. After the leave is up, employees are entitled to return to their previous job position or to an equivalent position, with some exceptions.

Maryland Adoption Leave Law

While the PLA requires unpaid leave, some Maryland employers may choose to provide paid parental leave. Maryland law requires that employers who provide paid parental leave following the birth of a child must make the same amount of leave available to adoptive parents.

Maryland Flexible Leave Act

The Flexible Leave Act (FLA) authorizes employees of employers with 15 or more employees to use leave with pay to care for an immediate family member who is ill, or for bereavement upon the death of an immediate family member. Immediate family member is defined as a child, spouse or parent. Leave with pay is defined as time away from work for which an employee is paid. It includes sick leave, vacation time, and compensatory time.

The FLA does not require employers to provide paid leave; it requires only that employees be permitted to use any paid leave they have already earned under their employers' policies. Employees who earn more than one type of leave with pay may elect the type and amount of leave to use.

Maryland Family Military Leave

Maryland law also requires that employers with at least 50 employees give covered employees the day off when an immediate family member leaves for or returns from active military duty outside of the United States.

Maryland Sick and Safe Leave

The Maryland Healthy Working Families Act requires employers with 15 or more employees to provide paid sick and safe leave to eligible employees. It also requires that employers who employ 14 or fewer employees provide unpaid sick and safe leave to eligible employees. Earned leave can be used in the following circumstances:

  • to care for or treat the employee's or a family member's mental or physical illness, injury, or condition
  • to obtain preventative medical care for the employee or the employee's family member
  • for maternity or paternity leave, or
  • to seek social, medical, or legal services for, or due to temporary relocation of, the employee or a family member who is a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking.

Employees accrue earned sick and safe leave at a rate of at least one hour for every 30 hours worked. Employees may not earn more than 40 hours of sick and safe leave in a year, or accrue more than 64 hours of earned sick and safe leave at any time.

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