Maryland Joins List of States Mandating Paid Sick Leave

Overriding Republican Gov. Pat Hogan’s veto, the Maryland legislature passed a paid-sick-leave law that took effect this past Sunday, but which critics say is so lacking in details that many businessowners are scrambling to figure out their new responsibilities.


Maryland Capitol

At its simplest level, the Maryland Healthy Working Families Act mandates that businesses with 15 or more employees offer up to five days of paid sick leave to deal with illness or issues such as domestic violence, assault or stalking.

Exemptions apply to a long list of employees, including those who regularly work less than 12 hours a week, independent contractors, real estate brokers, construction workers covered by union contracts and anyone under the age of 18.

The governor attempted to delay implementation until the summer so his staff could draw up concrete regulations to ease understanding and compliance by the state’s 107,000 affected businesses. Those firms represent about 78 percent of all Maryland businesses.

The governor also established a five-person Office of Small Business Regulatory Assistance to deal with the new law’s implementation and compliance. Meanwhile, the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation did release some basic guidance. The guidance explains, in part:

Governor Larry Hogan understands the business community has many questions regarding the Maryland Healthy Working Families Act, so he established the Office of Small Business Regulatory Assistance (OSBRA) within the Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation to assist small businesses in complying with the law.

Adding to the confusion, Montgomery and Prince George’s counties already have laws requiring paid sick leave.

Maryland joins California, New Jersey, Rhode Island and Massachusetts in crafting state paid-sick-leave laws. On the federal level, President Trump has called for a nationwide law, and a provision in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act allows for a credit for companies offering paid Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) leave.

The 1938 Wagner Act, commonly cited as the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), regulates wage-and-hour issues, including minimum wage and overtime pay, but is silent on vacation and sick-leave policies.

In many cases, private businesses are not waiting for government action but are implementing paid-leave policies for a variety of purposes to attract and retain employees in a tight labor market. Lowe’s, one of the last major holdouts in this trend, recently announced its own parental leave policy.

NOTE: The details in this blog are provided for informational purposes only. All answers are general in nature and do not constitute legal advice. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional should be sought. The author specifically disclaims any and all liability arising directly or indirectly from the reliance on or use of this blog.
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