Maryland Healthy Working Families Act (MHWFA)

MARYLAND EARNED SICK AND SAFE LEAVE UNDER THE MHWFA

Eligible employees working in Maryland are entitled to earn Sick and Safe leave (SSL).  For employees who are eligible to accrue or are granted existing paid time off, including Vacation and Sick/Personal leave, SSL is provided as part of, and not in addition to, the Company’s paid leave program.  In other words, any and all paid leave benefits that you already receive which meet the minimum requirements under the Maryland Healthy Working Families Act (the “Act”) will serve to fulfill the requirements under the Act and you are eligible to use your “existing paid leave” (In accordance with Section 3-1302) for the purposes defined in the Act in Section 3-1305. 


3-1302 "(B)This subtitle may NOT be construed to...(2) require an employer to modify an existing paid leave policy if...(I) the policy permits an employee to accrue and use leave under terms and conditions that are at least equivalent to the earned sick and safe leave provided for under this subtitle...". (p7)  (C) For the purposes of subsection (B)(2) of this section, the terms and conditions of a paid leave policy shall be presumed to be equivalent if the terms and conditions allow an employee to: (1) access and accrue paid leave at the same rate or a greater rate than provided for in Section 3-1304 of this subtitle; and (2) use the paid leave for the purposes listed in Section 3-1305 of this subtitle." (p7)

Eligible employees are those who regularly work 12 or more hours a week.  An employee earns SSL under this policy from the date of hire, but SSL may not be used until the employee has completed 90 calendar days of employment.

Employees who are eligible for existing paid leave under the Company’s paid time off program are credited a block of not less than 40 hours of paid leave, including Vacation and Sick/Personal hours, at the beginning of the year and each year to follow, according to the existing paid time off program.  This existing paid leave can be used for the purposes of the Maryland Sick and Safe Leave Act, subject to the qualifying reasons, notice and other provisions set forth below.

Employees who are regularly scheduled to work 12 or more hours a week, but would otherwise not be eligible for existing paid time off under the Company’s paid time off program will be credited with a block of not less than 40 hours of SSL which will be initially available for use 90 days after their hire date.  At the anniversary year and for each year to follow, employees will be credited with a block of not less than 40 hours of SSL, unless the requirements of the Act are met under the Company’s existing paid time off program.  If any employee subsequently becomes eligible for leave under the Company’s existing paid leave policies, then such leave can be used for the purposes of the Maryland Sick and Safe Leave Act, subject to the qualifying reasons, notice and other provisions set forth below. 

SSL may not be carried over year to year and will not be paid out upon termination of employment. 
 

Use of Leave

SSL can be used for the following reasons:  

  1. To care for or treat the employee’s own mental or physical illness, injury, or condition.

  2. To care for a family member’s mental or physical illness, injury, or condition.

  3. To obtain preventive medical care for the employee or family member.

  4. For maternity or paternity leave.

  5. For absences due to domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking against the employee or family member:

    1. During the employee’s temporary relocation; or

    2. To obtain for the employee or family member:

      1. Medical or mental health attention;

      2. Services from a victim services organization; or

      3. Legal services or proceedings.

For purposes of this policy, a “family member” means:

  1. Spouse.

  2. Child, including biological, foster, adopted, or step, as well as one for whom the employee has legal or physical custody or guardianship, or stands in loco parentis (i.e. acts as the parent, regardless of the legal relationship).

  3. Parent, including biological, foster, adopted, or step for the employee or the employee’s spouse, as well as one who was the legal guardian of or stood in loco parentis to the employee or employee’s spouse.

  4. Grandparent, including biological, foster, adopted, or step, of the employee.

  5. Grandchild, including biological, foster, adopted, or step, of the employee.

  6. Sibling, including biological, foster, adopted, or step, of the employee.

 

Some, but not all, SSL also may be covered by the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and other leave and/or benefits laws, as well as other Company leave and/or benefits policies.  SSL that also qualifies under other laws and policies will run concurrently with leave and/or benefits under those laws and policies, and will be subject to the requirements of any other applicable leave and/or benefits policies.

If the need to use sick and safe leave is foreseeable (for example, a scheduled doctor’s appointment), the employee must provide 7 days advance notice. If the need for SSL is unforeseeable, the employee must provide notice as soon as possible, and should comply with the Company’s notice requirements for absences, unless it is not possible due to the circumstances giving rise to the need for leave. The request to use SSL may be denied if the employee fails to provide the required notice and the absence will cause or has caused a disruption to business operations.

Employees are permitted to use the leave in increments of not less than 4 hours.

SSL will be calculated based on the employee’s base rate of pay at the time of absence and will not include any special forms of compensation such as incentives, bonuses, commissions, prevailing wage rates, or shift differentials.  

If an employee uses available existing paid leave for non-SSL and exhausts his or her PTO bank, the employee will not have paid leave for an SSL purpose for the rest of the year.

SSL may only be used for the purposes set forth above.  The improper use of SSL or a pattern of abuse is strictly prohibited, and may be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including termination of employment.

If an employee uses sick and safe leave for more than two consecutive scheduled shifts or workdays, the employee must provide reasonable verification that the leave use was appropriate.  Such verification may include, for example, a signed document from a health care provider (without disclosing details of the illness, injury or condition), a police report, a court order, or a signed statement from a victim or witness advocate or domestic violence counselor. This verification must be provided upon the employee’s return to work. Failure to provide verification may result in the denial of future requests for SSL for the same purpose and may be grounds for discipline.

The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 (GINA) prohibits employers from
requesting or requiring genetic information of an individual or a family member of the individual, except as specifically allowed by this law. To comply with this law, we are asking that you not provide any genetic information in response to any medical information requested pursuant to this policy. “Genetic information,” as defined by GINA, includes an individual’s family medical history, the results of an individual’s or family member’s genetic tests, the fact that an individual or an individual’s family member sought or received genetic services, and genetic information of a fetus carried by an individual or an individual’s family member or an embryo lawfully held by an individual or family member receiving assistive reproductive services.

Statement of SSL

With each pay period, employees will be provided with a statement of all leave available, either on paper or electronically.  Questions about an SSL issue, including the accuracy of a reported balance or a consequence associated with the use of SSL (such as a denial of the use of leave) should be direct to the HR Manager so that the matter can be reviewed.