Leave Management, Policy, and Compliance

Additional Guidance Now Available for Maryland Healthy Working Families Act

As we previously reported, just over 1 month ago Maryland became the ninth state to enact a paid sick leave law when Governor Larry Hogan’s previous veto of the law was overridden. Despite some legislative efforts to delay the rapid, and somewhat unplanned, approach of its effective date, the law took effect as planned on February 11, 2018.

Sick leave

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Meanwhile, many employers—particularly multi-state employers with remote workers in Maryland—had understandable questions and uncertainty regarding compliance with the new law. On February 16, the Department of Labor, Licensing, and Regulation and the newly-created Office of Small Business Regulatory Assistance issued a helpful Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) guidance document to provide clarity on compliance with the law.

Perhaps the most important question answered by the document—yes, the law can apply to out-of-state employers with Maryland-based employees.

Specifically, the guidance provides:

Which employers are required to provide earned sick and safe leave?

All employers with employees whose primary work location is in Maryland are required to provide earned sick and safe leave, regardless of where the employer is located. Employers who employ 15 or more employees are required to provide paid earned sick and safe leave. Employers with 14 or fewer employees are required to provide unpaid earned sick and safe leave.

The guidance document also answers numerous questions on calculating the employee threshold, including much-needed guidance for employers outside of Maryland.

Specifically:

In calculating the 15-employee threshold, does an employer include employees that work in Maryland as well as employees that the employer employs in other states?

The commissioner of labor and industry will consider only those employees employed in Maryland. All employees of the employer working in Maryland will be considered in determining the 15-employee threshold, including part-time, seasonal, and temporary employees.

This news may provide some relief to out of state employers who may have as few as one covered employee under the law. Though the employer will still be required to comply with the unpaid leave requirement of the law with respect to the eligible employee, paid leave will only be required if the employer has at least 15 eligible workers within the state of Maryland.

The FAQ document goes on to provide incredibly helpful and easy-to-follow guidance on calculating the number of employees, complying with leave accrual and tracking requirements, permissible uses of leave, verification of leave use, and more.

Additionally, a sample employee notice poster is also available for employers use. A sample policy will also be provided in the future. The FAQ, sample notice, future updates on the law, and contact information are available at the dedicated paid leave website at http://www.dllr.maryland.gov/paidleave/.

Employers with additional questions not addressed by the FAQ guidance may wish to seek assistance from local counsel or contact the Office of Small Business Regulatory Assistance directly at small.business@maryland.gov.

HollyHolly K. Jones, JD is a Senior Legal Editor for BLR’s human resources and employment law publications. She understands the existing and emerging needs and challenges of human resources professionals thanks to several years of experience managing, writing, and editing key legal and compliance publications for BLR. Prior to joining BLR, Ms. Jones worked for the Tennessee Legislature’s Office of Legal Services.

She graduated magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa with a BA in English Rhetoric and Writing, Political Science, and Psychology from the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, Tennessee, where she also received a 2001 Citation for Extraordinary Academic Achievement. She received her law degree from Vanderbilt University Law School and is licensed to practice law in Tennessee.

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Questions? Comments? Contact Holly at hjones@blr.com for more information on this topic.