Maryland Sick Leave Law

Maryland Sick and Safe Leave Law



Eligible employees

Employees who work in Maryland are eligible to receive sick and safe leave except individuals who:

  • have entered into contacts agreeing that they are not performing work as employees pursuant Maryland Labor and Employment 8-205
  • is a licensed real estate salesperson or a licensed associate real estate broker; is affiliated with a licensed real estate broker under a written agreement; is compensated solely on a commission basis; and for federal tax purposes, qualifies as an independent contractor. See Maryland Labor and Employment 8-205
  • are under the age of 18 before the beginning of the year
  • are employed in the agricultural sector on agricultural operations which include the processing of agricultural crops or on–farm production, harvesting, or marketing of any agricultural, horticultural, silvicultural, aquacultural, or apicultural product that has been grown, raised, or cultivated by the farmer. See Maryland Courts and Judicial Proceedings 5-403
  • are employed by temporary services agencies to provide temporary staffing services to another person if the temporary services agencies do not have day-to-day control over the work assignments and supervision of the individuals while they are providing the temporary staffing services
  • are directly employed by employment agencies to provide part-time or temporary services to another person
  • regularly work less than 12 hours per week
  • are employed in the construction industry and are coverd by a bona fide collective bargaining agreement that expressly, clearly, and unambiguously waives the requirements of Maryland’s Healthy Working Families Act
    • employees employed in the following jobs are not considered to be employed in the construction industry
      • janitor
      • building cleaner
      • building security officer
      • concierge
      • doorperson
      • handyperson
      • building superintendent
  • are called to work on an as-needed basis in a health or human services industry and
    • can reject or accept offered shift;
    • is not guaranteed to be called to work; and
    • is not employed by a temporary staffing agency

Maryland Labor and Employment 3-1301(E), 3-1303(A), (B)


Covered employers

For purposes of Maryland’s Healthy Working Families Act, the term employer includes:

  • a unit of state or local government, and
  • a person that acts directly or indirectly in the interest of another employer with an employee.

Maryland Labor and Employment 3-1301(F)

Also, although it is not stated explicitly, the term employer includes any entity that employs an individual who is not exempt from coverage of the Act. See Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing, and Regulation Maryland Healthy Working Families Act Information


Paid versus unpaid sick and safe leave

Employers that employ 15 or more employees must provide paid sick and safe leave. Maryland Labor and Employment 3-1304(A)(1)(I)

Employers that employ 14 or fewer employees must provide unpaid sick and safe leave. Maryland Labor and Employment 3-1304(A)(1)(II)

The number of employees an employer has is determined by calculating the average monthly number of employees employed by the employer during the immediately preceding year. Maryland Labor and Employment 3-1304(A)(2)(I) This calculation must include full-time, part-time, temporary, and seasonal employees. It also includes employees who may not be eligible for sick and safe leave. Maryland Labor and Employment 3-1304(A)(2)(II)


Sick and safe leave accrual

Maryland’s Healthy Working Families Act allows employers to provide sick and safe leave using one of two methods.

Under the first method, employers may provide employees with sick and safe leave by allowing them to accrue at least one (1) hour of sick and safe leave for every 30 hours they work. Maryland Labor and Employment 3-1304(B) This is often referred to as the accrual method. Employees who are exempt from overtime wage requirements under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act are assumed to work forty (40) hours each week. Maryland Labor and Employment 3-1304(E) Additionally, employers are not required to award employees sick and safe leave in any of the following circumstances:

Under the second method, employers may award employees at the beginning of the year the full amount of sick and safe leave that they would earn under the one (1) hour for thirty (30) hours worked accrual method. Maryland Labor and Employment 3-1304(D) This is often referred to as the lump sum method.

Under either method of providing sick and safe leave, employers are not required to provide employees with more than forty (40) hours of sick and safe leave each year. Maryland Labor and Employment 3-1304(C)(1) Additionally, employers may limit the total number hours employees may carry at any given to sixty-four (64) hours. Maryland Labor and Employment 3-1304(C)(3)

Employers must allow employees to begin accruing sick and safe time on January 1, 2018, or if hired after January 1, 2018, on the date the employees begin working for the employer. Maryland Labor and Employment 3-1304(F)


Carry over from year to year

Employers who use the accrual method for providing sick and safe leave to employees must allow employees to carry over at least forty (40) hours of unused sick and safe leave from one year to the next. Maryland Labor and Employment 3-1304(G)(1), (2) Employers are not required to allow employees to carry over unused sick and safe leave from one year to the next if:

  • the employer uses the lump sum method for providing sick and safe leave to employees, or
  • the employee is employed by a nonprofit entity or a governmental unit in accordance with a grant, the duration of which is limited to one (1) year and is not subject to renewal

Maryland Labor and Employment 3-1304(G)(3)


Year defined

Unless required otherwise, employers may define when a year begins for purposes of sick and safe leave accrual and use so long as the year is a regular and consecutive 12-month period. Maryland Labor and Employment 3-1301(L) This means employers may use the calendar year, anniversary year, fiscal year or any other 12-month period it prefers.


Permitted uses

Maryland’s Healthy Working Families Act requires employers to allow employees to use sick and safe leave for the following purposes:

  • to care for or treat the employee’s mental or physical illness, injury, or condition
  • to obtain preventive medical care for the employee or employee’s family member
  • to care for a family member with a mental or physical illness, injury, or condition
  • for maternity or paternity leave
  • if absence from work is due to domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking committed against the employee or the employee’s family member and the leave is being used by the employee:
    • to obtain for the employee or the employee’s family member
      • medical or mental health attention that is related to the domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking
      • services from a victim services organization related to the domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking
      • legal services or proceedings related to or resulting from the domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking
    • during the time that the employee has temporarily relocated due to the domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking

Maryland Labor and Employment 3-1305(A)

Definitions

Under Maryland’s Healthy Working Families Act, the following terms have the following meanings:

Abuse means any of the following:

  • an act the causes serious bodily harm
  • an act that places a person eligible for relief in fear of imminent serious harm
  • assault in any degree
  • rape or sexual offense under Criminal Law 3-303 to 308 or attempted rape or sexual offense in any degree
  • false imprisonment
  • stalking under Criminal Law 3-802

Maryland Labor and Employment 3-1301(B); Family Law 4-501

Domestic Violence means abuse against an individual eligible for relief which includes:

  • the current or former spouse of the respondent
  • a cohabitant of the respondent
  • a person related to the respondent by blood, marriage, or adoption
  • a parent, stepparent, child, or stepchild of the respondent or the person eligible for relief who resides or resided with the respondent or person eligible for relief for at least 90 days within 1 year before the filing of the petition
  • a vulnerable adult
  • an individual who has a child in common with the respondent
  • an individual who has had a sexual relationship with the respondent within 1 year before the filing of the petition

Maryland Labor and Employment 3-1301(C); Family Law 4-501

Sexual assault means:

  • rape, sexual offense, or any other act that is a sexual crime under Criminal Law Title 3, Subtitle 3
  • child sexual abuse under Criminal Law 3–602 which is an act that involves sexual molestation or exploitation of a minor, whether physical injuries are sustained or not, including:
    • incest
    • rape
    • sexual offense in any degree
    • sodomy
    • unnatural or perverted sexual practices
  • sexual abuse of a vulnerable adult under Criminal Law 3–604 which includes an adult who lacks the physical or mental capacity to provide for the adult’s daily needs

Maryland Labor and Employment 3-1301(J)

Stalking means a malicious course of conduct that includes approaching or pursuing another where:

  • the person intends to place or knows or reasonably should have known the conduct would place another in reasonable fear:
    • of serious bodily injury;
    • of an assault in any degree;
    • of rape or sexual offense as defined by Criminal Law 3–303 to 3–308 or attempted rape or sexual offense in any degree;
    • of false imprisonment;
    • of death; or
    • that a third person likely will suffer any of the acts listed above; or
  • the person intends to cause or knows or reasonably should have known that the conduct would cause serious emotional distress to another.

Maryland Labor and Employment 3-1301(K); Criminal Law 3-802


Family member defined

Maryland’s Healthy Working Families Act which requires employers to provide sick and safe leave to eligible employees defines the term family member to include:

  • a biological child, an adopted child, a foster child, or a stepchild of the employee
  • a child for whom the employee has legal or physical custody or guardianship
  • a child for whom the employee stands in loco parentis, regardless of the child’s age
  • a biological parent, an adoptive parent, a foster parent, or a stepparent of the employee or of the employee’s spouse
  • the legal guardian of the employee
  • an individual who acted as a parent or stood in loco parentis to the employee or the employee’s spouse when the employee or the employee’s spouse was a minor
  • the spouse of the employee
  • a biological grandparent, an adopted grandparent, a foster grandparent, or a stepgrandparent of the employee
  • a biological grandchild, an adopted grandchild, a foster grandchild, or a stepgrandchild of the employee
  • a biological sibling, an adopted sibling, a foster sibling, or a stepsibling of the employee

Maryland Labor and Employment 3-1301(E)


New employees wait-to-use period

Employers are not required to allow employees to use accrued sick and safe leave until they have worked for the employer for at least 106 calendar days. Maryland Labor and Employment 3-1304(C)(4)


Sick and safe leave use requirements and limits

Employers must allow employees to use up to sixty-four (64) hours of sick and safe time each year. Maryland Labor and Employment 3-1304(C)(2)

Employers may, but are not required to, allow employees to use sick and safe leave before it is accrued. They may also deduct the amount paid for the unearned but used sick and safe leave from employees’ wage upon separation from employment if the employees have consented to the deduction in written and signed documents. Maryland Labor and Employment 3-1304(I)

Employers may require employees to use sick and safe leave in increments that do not exceed four (4) hours. Maryland Labor and Employment 3-1305(E)(2) Unless employers have specifically designated the increment amount of sick and safe leave employees may take, employees may take sick and safe leave in the smallest increment that the employers’ payroll system uses to account for absences or use of the employees’ work time. Maryland Labor and Employment 3-1305(E)(1)


Payment for accrued sick and safe leave upon separation from employment

Maryland’s Healthy Working Families Act does not require employers to pay employees for accrued but unused sick and safe leave when employees leave employment with their employers. Maryland Labor and Employment 3-1302(B)(1), 3-1304(J) This includes any form of separation from employment including resignation, termination, retirement, layoff, and death of the employee.


Rehired employees

Employers must reinstate any unused sick and safe leave to employees who are rehired within thirty-seven (37) weeks of originally leaving employment unless the employers voluntarily paid employees for their unused sick and safe leave when they originally left employment. Maryland Labor and Employment 3-1304(H)


Successor employers

Employers who acquire other employers by sale or otherwise must allow employees who remain employed with the successor employers to retain the full amount of unused sick and safe leave accrued during employment with the previous employer. Maryland Labor and Employment 3-1304(K)


Alternative eligible leave policies

Employers are not required to change their existing leave policies, including vacation, sick, short-term disability, floating holidays, parental leave, and similar leave policies if:

  • the policy permits employees to accrue and use leave under terms and conditions that are the same or better than those required by Maryland’s Healthy Working Families Act
  • the policy does not reduce employees’ compensation for absences permitted by Maryland’s Healthy Working Families Act

Maryland Labor and Employment 3-1302(A),(B)(2)

An alternative leave policy will be presumed to meet the minimum requirements of Maryland’s Healthy Working Families Act if:

  • employees accrue leave and may access it at the same or greater rate than required by the Act
  • employees may use their accrued leave for the purposes required by the Act

Maryland Labor and Employment 3-1302(C)


Employee notice of use requirements

When the need to use sick and safe leave is foreseeable, employers may require employees to provide not more than seven (7) days advance notice. Maryland Labor and Employment 3-1305(B)(1)

When the need to use sick and safe leave is unforeseeable, employers may require employees to:

  • provide notice as soon as practicable, and
  • generally comply with the employer’s notice or procedureal requirement for requesting or reporting other leave as long as those requiements do not interfere with employees’ ability to use sick and safe leave

Maryland Labor and Employment 3-1305(B)(2)

Employers may deny requests to use sick and safe leave if:

  • employees fail to provide the required notice and the employees’ absences will cause disruptions to the employers
  • the employer is a private employer licensed under Maryland Health-General Title 7 or 10 to provide services to developmentally disabled or mentally ill individuals and
    • the need to use sick and safe leave is foreseeable
    • the employer is unable to find a suitable replacement after exercising reasonable efforts
    • the employee’s absence will cause a disruption of services to at least one (1) individual with a developmental disability or mental illness

Maryland Labor and Employment 3-1305(B)(3)

Additionally, employers may deny employees requests to use sick and safe leave if they failed to provide required verification of proper use and the current request for leave is for the same reason as the prior unverified leave use. Maryland Labor and Employment 3-1305(G)(2)


Verification of proper use

Employers may require employees who use sick and safe leave to provide verification that the leave was used for an appropriate purpose when:

  • the leave lasted two (2) consecutive scheduled shifts, or
  • employees used the leave between the 107 and 120 calendar days (both inclusive) of employment and the employees agreed to provide verification at the time of hire

Maryland Labor and Employment 3-1305(G)(1)

If employees fail to provide verification as required, employers may deny the employees’ subsequent request to use sick and safe leave for the same reason. Maryland Labor and Employment 3-1305(G)(2)


Restaurant industry and tipped employees

Employers are not required to pay tipped employees more than minimum wage for sick and safe leave. Maryland Labor and Employment 3-1304(A)(III)

Employers in the restaurant industry and their employees who are compensated as tipped employees as defined in Maryland Labor and Employment 3-419 may mutually agree to allow the employees to work additional hours or trade shifts with other employees instead of using accrued sick and safe leave. Maryland Labor and Employment 3-1305(D)(2)(I) To avoid being credited with using sick and safe leave, employees must work the additional hours or trade shifts with other employees during the same or following pay period. Maryland Labor and Employment 3-1305(D)(1)(I), (2)(I)(2) Employers may not require employees to accept additional hours or trade shifts instead of taking sick and safe leave. Maryland Labor and Employment 3-1305(D)(1)(II), (2)(I)(2) Additionally, employers must assume responsibility for arranging coverage of employees’ shifts. Maryland Labor and Employment 3-1305(D)(2)(I)(3) Employers do not need to consent to employees’ request to make up hours or trade shifts if it would result in the employers being required to pay the employees overtime. Maryland Labor and Employment 3-1305(D)(3)

If employees request employers to arrange coverage of a shift, employers may offer employees the choice of:

  • being paid minimum wage for time missed due sick and safe leave purposes, or
  • working equivalent shifts of the same duration in the same or following pay period

Maryland Labor and Employment 3-1305(D)(2)(II)(1)

If employers do not offer employees the option to work equivalent shifts, employers must pay employees minimum wage for all sick and safe leave taken. Maryland Labor and Employment 3-1305(D)(2)(III)

For purposes of the Maryland’s Healthy Working Families Act, restaurant means an establishment that:

  • accommodates the public,
  • is equipped with a dining room with facilities for preparing and serving regular meals, and
  • has average daily receipts from the sale of food that exceed the average daily receipts from the sale of alcoholic beverages

Maryland Labor and Employment 3-1301(I)


Discipline for misuse

Employers may adopt and enforce policies that prohibit employees from using sick and safe leave for purposes that are not permitted by Maryland’s Healthy Working Families Act or for using sick and safe leave that demonstrates a pattern of abuse. Maryland Labor and Employment 3-1302(B)(5)


Employer notice requirements

Each time employees are paid, employers are required to provide in writing a statement indicating the amount of earned sick and safe leave available for employees to use. Maryland Labor and Employment 3-1305(F)(1) The statement may be provided electronically through online systems. Maryland Labor and Employment 3-1305(F)(2)

Maryland’s Healthy Working Families Act also requires employers to notify employees:

  • they are entitled to earn sick and safe leave
  • how sick and safe leave is accrued
  • the purposes for which sick and safe leave may be used
  • they will not be disciplined or otherwise penalized for:
    • requesting to use or using sick and safe leave, or
    • filing or participating in a complaint against the employer for failing to comply with the requirements of Maryland’s Healthy Working Families Act
  • they may not file a complaint, bring an action or testify in an action against their employers in bad faith

Maryland Labor and Employment 3-1306(A),(B)

The Commissioner of Labor and Industry publishes a free poster and model notice that employers may use to comply with their notice requirements. Maryland Labor and Employment 3-1306(C)(1)


Recordkeeping

Employers are required to keep for at least three (3) years a record of:

  • earned sick and safe leave accrued by employees, and
  • earned sick and safe leave used by employees

Maryland Labor and Employment 3-1307

Employers who fail to keep the required records or refuse to allow the Commissioner of Labor and Industry to inspect them are subject to a rebuttable presumption that they failed to comply with Maryland’s Healthy Working Families Act. Maryland Labor and Employment 3-1307(B),(C)(1) The Commissioner may waive any penalties assessed against employers who fail to keep the required records due to an error caused by a third-party payroll service provider with whom the employers contracted for services in good faith. Maryland Labor and Employment 3-1307(C)(2)


Prohibited practices

Employers may not require employees to search for or find other employees to work in their place during the time they are taking sick and safe leave. Maryland Labor and Employment 3-1305(C)

Employees are prohibited from taking the following actions in bad faith:

  • filing a complaint with the Commissioner of Labor and Industry alleging a violation of Maryland’s Healthy Working Families Act
  • brining a legal action against an employer alleging a violation of Maryland’s Healthy Working Families Act
  • testify in a legal action against an employer alleging a violation of Maryland’s Healthy Working Families Act

Maryland Labor and Employment 3-1310(A)

An employee who takes any of the above actions in bad faith is guilty of a misdemeanor and, if convicted, may be subject to a fine not to exceed $1,000. Maryland Labor and Employment 3-1310(B)


Discrimination and retaliation

A person, including employers, may not interfere with an employee’s exercise or attempt to exercise their rights under Maryland’s Healthy Working Families Act. Maryland Labor and Employment 3-1309(B)

Employer may not:

  • take adverse action or discriminate against an employee because they exercise in good faith their rights under Maryland’s Healthy Working Families Act
  • interfere with, restrain, or deny an employee’s ability to exercise their rights in good faith under Maryland’s Healthy Working Families Act
  • apply absence control policies that may lead to or result in adverse actions being taken against employees for using sick and safe leave

Maryland Labor and Employment 3-1309(C), (D)

An adverse action includes:

  • discharge
  • demotion
  • threatening an employee with discharge or demotion
  • any other retaliatory action that results in a change to the terms or conditions of employment that would dissuade a reasonable employee from exercising a right under Maryland’s Healthy Working Families Act

Maryland Labor and Employment 3-1309(A)


Filing a complaint, complaint procedure, and penalties

Employees who believe their employers have violated Maryland’s Healthy Working Families Act may file a written complaint with the Commissioner of Labor and Industry. Maryland Labor and Employment 3-1308(A)

Within 90 days of receiving a complaint, the Commissioner of Labor and Industry will conduct an investigation and attempt to resolve it through mediation. Maryland Labor and Employment 3-103(K)(1), 3-1308(B)(1) To the extent practicable, the Commissioner will keep confidential the identity of the employee who has filed a complaint unless the employee waives confidentiality. Maryland Labor and Employment 3-103(K)(2) If the complaint isn’t resolved through mediation, the commissioner will make a determination whether the employer violated the Act. Maryland Labor and Employment 3-1308(B)(2)(I) If the Commissioner determines the employer violated the Act, it will issue an order that:

  • describe the violation
  • direct the payment of the full monetary value of any unpaid earned sick and safe leave and any actual economic damages
  • in the Commissioner’s discretion, direct the payment of an additional amount up to three (3) times the value of the employee’s hourly wage for each violation
  • in the Commissioner’s discretion, assess a civil penalty of up to $1,000 for each employee subject to the violation

Maryland Labor and Employment 3-1308(B)(2)(II)

The action of the Commissioner of Labor and Industry related to an employee’s complaint are subject to the hearing and notice requirements of Maryland State Government Title 10, Subtitle 2. Maryland Labor and Employment 3-1308(B)(3)

If an employer does not comply with the Commissioner’s order within thirty (30) days, the following actions may be taken:

  • the commissioner may:
    • with the written consent of the employee, ask the Attorney General to bring an action on behalf of the employee in the county where the employer is located, or
    • bring an action to enforce the order for the civil penalty in the county where the employer is located
  • the employee may, within three (3) years after the date of the Commissioner’s order, bring a civil action to enforce the order in the county where the employer is located

Maryland Labor and Employment 3-1308(C)(1), (2)

If an employee prevails in an action against their employer, the court may award:

  • three (3) times the value of the employee’s unpaid earned sick and safe leave
  • punitive damages in an amount to be determined by the court
  • reasonable counsel fees and other costs
  • injunctive relief, if appropriate
  • any other relief that the court deems appropriate

Maryland Labor and Employment 3-1308(C)(3)


Relationships with other laws

Maryland’s Healthy Working Families Act does not preempt, limit or otherwise affect any other law that provides for sick and safe leave benefits that are more generous than those required by the Act, including Workers’ Compensation. Maryland Labor and Employment 3-1302(B)(3), (4)


Sick and safe time laws of local jurisdictions

Under Maryland’s Healthy Working Families Act, after January 1, 2017, local jurisdictions may not pass ordinances or otherwise require employers, other than themselves, to provide sick and safe leave benefits. Maryland Labor and Employment 3-1302(D)(1) Ordinances or other rules that were passed by local jurisdictions before January 1, 2017, remain in effect and must be complied with by employers within their jurisdictions. Maryland Labor and Employment 3-1302(D)(2)


State and local jurisdiction employers

If state or local government offer sick leave policies that have sick leave accrual and use requirements that meet or exceed the sick and safe leave requirements provided for in Maryland’s Healthy Working Families Act, their employees who are part of the unit’s personnel system will be subject to the state or local government laws, regulations, policies, and procedures providing for:

  • accrual and use of sick leave
  • grievances
  • disciplinary actions

This rule does not apply to state or local employees who are employed in the construction industry and are covered by a collective bargaining agreement that expressly, clearly, and unambiguously waives the requirements of Maryland’s Healthy Working Families Act. Maryland Labor and Employment 3-1302(C)(1)

Employees of the state government that are entitled to sick and safe leave under Maryland’s Healthy Working Families Act and who are not covered by the government unit’s sick leave accrual and use requirements may file complaints against their employer consistent with the standard complaint procedures set forth in the Act. Maryland Labor and Employment 3-1302(C)(2)