February 11th is a date every employer in Maryland needs to know and prepare for right now. On that day, the new Maryland Healthy Working Families Act (the “Act”) takes effect. For many businesses, it will affect the nature and details of sick and safe leave that you must provide to your employees. It will add new levels of rules that may have a big impact on your current policies. And there are consequences if you don’t comply with the timetable that the Act requires.
The Act entails a number of details, definitions, and requirements that I can help you understand. This article is the nutshell version of what’s in store. Please call me so that we can review the specific ways it may require you to change your business’s policies.
Definitions first. This Act requires your business to provide up to 40 hours of sick and safe leave to eligible employees. There are a number of guidelines for how those hours are accrued and if and how they can be carried forward. The leave must be paid leave if you have 15 or more employees; if you have 14 or fewer employees, it can be unpaid—but it must still be provided. The “sick leave” part of the formula encompasses care for the physical or mental health of the employee or a family member, as well as, maternity or paternity leave. The “safe leave” aspect means an employee can use the time to “obtain relief in response to domestic or sexual assault of the employee or a family member.”
If your employees are in Montgomery County, you must be sure that you comply with both this Act and the county’s sick leave law passed last year.
If your employees are in Prince George’s County, the Act preempts the sick leave law that was previously in effect there, and you only need to meet the State’s requirements.
What you must do before the February 11 effective date. You need to quickly take a variety of steps to be sure that your business is in compliance.
- Review your current PTO and paid leave policies. If they don’t already comply with the Act, then you must revise or implement new policies by February 11, 2018.
- Prepare and provide notice to your employees of the Act. As an employer, you are required to notify your employees of their rights under the Act. The Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation is drafting a model notice, but whether or not it is ready in time you are still responsible for explaining the rights.
- Review your payroll system. Your business must provide a way for employees to check their sick and safe leave balances. This is often done by listing the leave balance on their pay stubs.
- Review recordkeeping practices. As an employer, you are now required to keep three (3) years of records of sick and safe leave accrual and use.
Navigating the nuances of the Act can be daunting. I am here to help if you have questions or would like to further discuss the Maryland Healthy Working Families Act. Please feel free to reach out to me by e-mail or phone at (240) 778-2315.