On June 23, 2015, the Montgomery County Council significantly altered your obligations as an employer by passing the Earned Sick and Safe Leave Act. You will now be required to provide paid sick leave to your employees at new, higher levels. It is estimated that this will affect as many as 90,000 private-sector employees who did not previously receive paid time off.
All Montgomery County employers are affected!
- If your business employs five or more workers, you will be obligated to provide up to seven paid days off per year (56 hours).
- If you employ fewer than five workers, you will have to provide up to four paid days (32 hours) and three unpaid day per year (24 hours).
- The Act excludes employees who work less than eight hours per week, independent contractors, and temporary workers.
How does it work?
The Act requires your business to provide earned sick and safe leave at a rate of at least one hour for every 30 hours an employee works in the county, up to 56 hours in a calendar year. While on leave, an employee would have to be paid for earned sick and safe leave at the same rate, and with the same benefits, as the employee would normally earn. Tipped employees are required to be paid at least the county minimum wage for each hour of earned sick and safe leave.
For purposes of calculating paid leave for employees who are exempt from overtime, such employees are assumed to work a 40-hour week.
What is its scope?
As a result of this new Act, employees will earn leave that they can use to address the injury or illness of themselves or their immediate family members. They may also use leave to deal with matters related to domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking, whether suffered by the employee or an immediate family member.
While unused leave may be carried over into the beginning of a calendar year, your business is not required to permit more than 56 hours of unused leave time to be carried over.
If an employee uses more leave than he or she has actually earned, you may be able deduct the amount paid for the earned leave from wages paid if the employee is terminated.
When does it take effect?
The law takes effect October 1, 2016.
What can you do as an employer?
While the Act will not take effect until next year, the new law nonetheless provides an excellent opportunity for you to review and revise your employment policies. Federal, state and now local government is regulating the employer/employee relationship in more ways than ever before. As a result, clearly stated employment policies are more important than ever. While this law may be very burdensome for small employers, compliance is mandatory. Violating the Act’s provisions can subject your business to penalties including monetary damages. If you are unclear about how the Act may affect you or your business, or you are unsure about your company’s compliance, please contact our knowledgeable attorneys to discuss the implications.