Maryland parental leave law takes effect October 1

by Kevin C. McCormick

Maryland’s new Parental Leave Act (PLA), which grants unpaid parental leave benefits to employees working for some employers too small to be eligible for leave under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), will take effect October 1.

The PLA requires employers with 15 to 49 employees to provide unpaid parental leave benefits for the birth, adoption, or fostering of a child. Under the new law, eligible employees may take up to six weeks of unpaid parental leave in a 12-month period for the birth, adoption, or foster placement of a child.

Eligible employees are defined as employees who have worked for their employer for at least one year and for 1,250 hours in the previous 12 months. The PLA doesn’t apply to independent contractors or individuals employed at a worksite with fewer than 15 employees if the total number of employees employed by the company within a 75-mile radius of the worksite is also fewer than 15.

Employees are to provide their employers with 30 days’ notice before taking parental leave. Prior notice isn’t required if an employee takes leave after a premature birth, an unexpected adoption, or an unexpected foster placement.

An employer may deny unpaid parental leave to an eligible employee if the denial is necessary to prevent “substantial and grievous economic injury to the operations of the employer” and it notifies the employee of the denial before leave begins.

For more information on the new law, see the June issue of Maryland Employment Law Letter.

Kevin C. McCormick is chair of the labor and employment section of the Baltimore law firm Whiteford, Taylor & Preston and editor of Maryland Employment Law Letter. He can be reached at