Maryland employers, get ready for the new Parental Leave Act!

Author: McMillan Metro Editor Date: 09/25/2014

Categories: Corporate and Business Law, Employment Law & Litigation, Legal Issues For Restaurant Owners

As of October 1, 2014, if you have 15-49 employees in Maryland, your business needs to be prepared to provide parental leave to anyone who is eligible. Here are a few key facts to help you determine if you will be affected and how to comply.

Am I subject to the Parental Leave Act (PLA)?

The simple answer is yes, if you have 15-49 employees in Maryland.  But there’s one twist that might work in your favor.  PLA is based on a count of how many of your employees work within a 75-mile radius in Maryland.  In other words, if you have 8 employees in Frederick and 7 in Ocean City, you do not have to comply.  If all 15 of them are in Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties, you do.

Do I have to worry about the Federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) too?

There is a chance you may be subject to both laws.  FMLA pertains to businesses with 50 or more employees.  Here’s the catch: Let’s say you have 49 employees in Rockville and one in the District of Columbia.  The 49 Maryland employees subject you to PLA . . . and the additional one in D.C. takes your total to 50, which means you also have to comply with FMLA as well. They are not mutually exclusive, so if you fall into this category you must structure your policies to meet the requirements of both laws.

What do I have to do for my qualifying Maryland parents?

PLA states that you must give eligible employees up to 6 weeks of unpaid parent leave during any 12-month period for the birth of the employee’s child or placement of a child with the employee for adoption or foster care.  PLA defines an eligible employee as someone who has been employed by your company for at least twelve months and has worked 1,250 hours prior to beginning the leave.  As the employer, you may also require a certain period of notice prior to taking the PLA leave, except in an emergency.  You can also require employees to use all of their paid time off as part of the PLA leave.  On their return from PLA leave, you must restore the employees to their previous positions or equivalent ones.  PLA only allows an employer to refuse to restore an employee in a few specific situations, such as termination for cause.

What should I do now?

Get out your company’s employee manual to review and revise it to make sure that your current leave policy is compliant.  It’s the best way to be sure there are no problems when the issue of family leave next arises.  An updated policy will also allow you to take advantage of some of the protections PLA offers to employers, such as the notice requirement which would not otherwise be available unless in the policy.

Please feel free to contact me to discuss this further at 240-778-2308 or