Insights

Healthy Working Families Act


On Jan. 12, 2018, the Maryland Legislature overrode Gov. Hogan’s May 2017 veto of HB 1, the Healthy Working Families Act. The new law is effective Feb. 11, 2018, and requires employers with 15 or more employees to provide paid sick and safe leave to eligible employees. Employers with 14 or fewer employees are required to provide unpaid leave. To calculate size, the employer must determine the average monthly number of employees in the preceding calendar year. All employees are included in the calculation (part-time, full-time, temporary and seasonal).

Eligible employees accrue one hour of leave for every 30 hours worked up to a maximum annual accrual of 40 hours. Salaried employees accrue based on a 40-hour workweek or their normal workweek. Employees may use up to 64 hours of leave per year. Employees may roll over a maximum of 40 hours to a subsequent year or the employee must frontload the employee’s full amount that would be earned in the year at the beginning of the year. Employees begin to accrue at the start of employment or Feb. 11, 2018, whichever is later. An employer may deny leave during the employee’s first 106 calendar days of employment. Accrued but unused hours are not required to be paid at employee termination.

Employees are eligible if they work 12 hours or more per week. The following workers are not covered by the new law:

  • Independent contractors
  • Employees who are under the age of 18 at the beginning of the year
  • Agricultural employees
  • Workers employed by a temporary staffing agency that does not control the day-to-day work assignments and supervision of the employee
  • Workers employed by an employment staffing agency to provide temporary or part-time services to another employer
  • On-call workers in the health or human services industry who can reject or accept the shift offered and who are not employed by a temporary staffing agency
  • Workers employed in the construction industry and covered by a bona fide collective bargaining agreement in which the safe and sick leave requirement is clearly and specifically waived; janitors, building cleaners, building security officers, concierges, doorpersons, handypersons and building superintendents working in the construction industry are covered by the law

An employer may deny leave if the employee provides services to developmentally disabled or mentally ill individuals, if the leave is foreseeable, if the employer cannot locate a suitable replacement after reasonable efforts and if the absence will cause a disruption of service to at least one client.

Eligible employees may take leave for any of the following reasons:

  • The employee’s or family member’s mental or physical illness, injury or condition
  • The employee’s or family member’s preventive medical care
  • The employee or family member is a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking
  • Maternity or paternity leave

For this purpose, “family member” is defined as spouses, children, parents, parents-in-law, grandparents and siblings, including all adoptive, biological, foster and step relationships.

Employers can require certification for leaves covering two consecutive scheduled shifts.

The Commissioner of Labor and Industry will make available a poster and notice, which employers will be required to distribute to employees.

Finally, employers with existing leave policies will not be required to provide additional leave if the existing program provides leave equivalent to that required by HB 1.

HB 1 »