Maryland Sick Leave Legislation – Votes Verse Veto on Maryland Employers’ Sick Leave Obligations

When you’re sick, trying to weigh the pros and cons of whether to go to work is something business owners and employees know all too well.  While burying yourself in a pile of blankets on your couch while watching the Price is Right, and reminding Drew Carry that he will never be Bob Barker, may sound like a great way to kick a cold, many business owners and employees simply can’t afford to take the time off.  To address this issue, at least on behalf of employees, the Maryland General Assembly passed legislation that would require employers to provide paid or unpaid sick leave to their employees.  However, much like Drew Carry on the Price is Right, the legislation may be dead on arrival as Governor Larry Hogan has already indicated he would use his veto power.  Despite the Governor’s veto, there is a strong possibility his veto will be overridden given the votes that passed the legislation through both chambers of the General Assembly.  As such business owners should know what’s potentially coming.

The highlights of the sick leave legislation include the requirement that employers with 15 or more employees will have to provide at least five days of paid sick leave per year to their employees.  Employers with less than 15 employees would have to provide unpaid sick leave to their employees.  Like other sick leave laws in the region, employees would accrue sick leave at a rate of one hour for every 30 hours worked.  Employees would have to average 12 work hours per week to qualify to accrue sick leave.  A probationary period, where employees would earn sick leave but would not be permitted to use it, would run for a period of 106 days from the date of hire.[1]

Currently, if the legislation passes into law, employers would have until January 1, 2018 until the requirements go into effect to figure out how to manage and adapt to these new requirements.  If the legislation is vetoed, employers would have a little more time while the General Assembly revisits the legislation to attempt to override the veto.  If these requirements do go into effect, employers should review their current leave policies immediately.  While we expect that a model policy will issued by the DLLR, employers should meet with their employment counsel to see what changes can be made to their current leave policies, if any, that may provide for a less burdensome transition into compliance with the requirements of Maryland’s expected sick leave law.

For more information you can find documents and a history of the legislation here.  Council Baradel’s employment attorneys are available to discuss how your business can adapt and comply with this and the many other employment laws in Maryland.  For real-time updates on trending employment issues, follow us on twitter at @StevenBrownCB and @StobbartShapiro.

[1]Maryland General Assembly gives final OK to Democrats' sick leave bill,