State of Maryland Issues Guidance on the New Paid Leave Law
The Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation (DLLR) updated its official FAQs on March 9, 2018, to guide Maryland employers in implementing the Maryland Healthy Working Families Act (the so-called “Paid Leave Law”). Since February 11, 2018, Maryland employers have been required to provide “sick and safe” leave benefits to their employees under this new law. Companies with 15 or more employees must provide paid leave to their employees. Companies with fewer than 15 employees need only provide unpaid leave.
The new DLLR publication provides guidance on the calculation of the 15-employee threshold, sick and safe leave accrual and tracking requirements, permissible uses of earned sick and safe leave, employer verification of sick and safe leave used, rehire requirements, and specific categories of employees. Here are a few of the new items clarified in the DLLR publication:
Does an employee need to give prior notice to the employer before using sick and safe leave?
DLLR says that, if the need for sick and safe leave is foreseeable, an employer may require its employees to provide up to seven days of notice before taking leave. If the need to use leave is not foreseeable, the employee must provide notice as soon as possible.
Can an employer designate different methods of accruing sick and safe leave for different types of employees?
Yes. DLLR says that “an employer could front-load leave to full-time employees but provide that part-time employees earn leave on an accrual basis.” DLLR recommends that such a policy is in writing and clearly communicated to all employees. Such a policy must be applied consistently with regard to each type of employee.
Do paid holidays count toward earned sick and safe leave? Can an employee accrue earned sick and safe leave while using PTO?
The new guidance directs that an employer cannot deduct holiday hours from an employee’s earned sick and safe leave if the employer’s business does not operate on those holidays, and the employer provides paid time off for those holidays. If an employer’s business operates on holidays and employees work or are expected to work on holidays, however, the employer may deduct from the employee’s accrued sick and safe leave if the employee takes a leave day and does not work on the holiday. The law does not require that an employee accrue sick and safe leave while using paid time off.
What happens in weeks where an employee occasionally works less than 12 hours in a week?
An employee that normally or customarily works less than 12 hours a week is not covered by the law. However, if an employee customarily works 12 or more hours per week but on an isolated week works less than 12 hours, those hours would still count toward the employee’s sick and safe leave.
How does an employer handle the accrual of earned sick and safe leave if the employer advances the leave time at the beginning of the year and the employee is not hired at the beginning of the designated benefit year?
If an employer advances sick and safe leave time on January 1st and an employee is hired later during the year, the employer must ensure that the employee earns sick and safe leave in an amount equal to or greater than the leave provided for under the earned sick and safe leave law, until the beginning of the next benefit year.
Does earned sick and safe leave count toward the fringe benefit amount on a Maryland prevailing wage project?
DLLR says that paid sick and safe leave may be credited toward the fringe benefit requirement on a Maryland Prevailing Wage project.
What pay rate should an employee working on a Maryland Prevailing Wage project be compensated when using earned sick and safe leave?
DLLR says that earned sick and safe leave should be compensated at an employee’s standard rate of pay, at the same rate the employer compensates employees for other paid fringe benefits