Paid Sick Leave in Maryland for Employees

All employers must now provide sick leave to their employees in Maryland.

If you work in Maryland, you may be entitled to take paid sick leave under a new state law. The law applies to all employers with at least one employee in Maryland, although smaller employers can provide unpaid leave. Below, we explain the rules, including who is eligible for leave, how much leave you can take, and more.

Which Employers Must Provide Paid Sick Leave in Maryland?

As of February of 2018, all employers with any employees whose primary work location is in Maryland must comply with the state’s sick and safe leave law (called the Maryland Healthy Working Families Act). Employers must comply even if they are headquartered, or have their main office, in another state.

Employers must provide paid leave if they have at least 15 employees in Maryland. All employees count toward this total, including part-time, seasonal, and temporary workers. Even workers who don’t work enough hours to qualify for leave (see below) are included in the count. Employers with fewer than 15 employees must provide unpaid leave only.

Which Employees Are Eligible for Sick Leave?

If you work in Maryland, your employer must allow you to take sick or safe leave, unless you fit into an exempt category. For example, you are not entitled to leave under state law if you regularly work fewer than 12 hours per week or you are not yet 18 years old at the beginning of the year. A handful of other exemptions apply, but they are quite narrow; learn more from the FAQ page at the website of the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing, and Regulation. Most employees are covered by the law.

How Much Sick Leave Can Employees Accrue and Use?

Eligible employees accrue one hour of sick leave for every 30 hours worked, up to a total of 40 hours per year. Employees who accrue leave in this way may carry over up to 40 hours of accrued leave to the next year, unless this would leave the employee with more than 64 hours of leave in the bank.

Alternatively, an employer may opt to give employees 40 hours of sick leave at the beginning of the leave year (as designated by the employer). If the employer front loads leave like this, the employer does not have to allow employees to carry over any leave to the next year.

New employees begin to accrue paid sick leave on their first day of work. However, employees must wait 106 days after their hire date until they can begin to use accrued leave.

For What Purposes May Employees Use Sick Leave?

Employees may use sick and safe leave for these reasons:

  • for the employee’s own health condition, injury, or mental or physical illness
  • to care for a family member who has a mental or physical illness, injury, or condition
  • to seek preventive care for the employee or a family member
  • for parental leave, or
  • for certain reasons relating to domestic violence, stalking, or sexual assault against the employee or the employee’s family member. An employee may take leave to seek medical or mental health care, to seek legal help or attend court proceedings, to get help from a victim services organization, or to temporarily relocate.

Maryland law defines “family member” broadly to include parents, children, spouses, grandparents, grandchildren, and siblings.

Notice and Paperwork Requirements

An employer may require employees who need leave for a foreseeable reason (such as a child’s check-up scheduled weeks in advance) to give notice up to seven days before taking time off. If an employee needs leave for an unforeseen reason (such as a sudden illness), the employer may require only as much notice as is practicable.

An employer may require employees to provide verification that they used sick and safe leave for one of the qualifying reasons set out above, but only if:

  • the employee used leave for more than two consecutive scheduled shifts, or
  • the employee used leave at any time from the 107th day of employment through the 120th day of employment, and the employee agreed, when hired, to provide such verification.

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