More Information About Maryland Sick and Safe Leave

Amy Polefrone
05 February 18
The new Maryland Healthy Working Families Act (aka Maryland Sick and Safe Leave) is going into effect on Sunday, February 11th.  We have less than 1 week until the implementation of this law. HR Strategy Group wants to make sure you are ready and we want you to know we are here to help you implement this policy in your organization. Please note that any guidance listed below reflects the current guidance from the State of Maryland as of today, but this could change. We will keep you updated with any changes to this law.
Here are some questions you need to ask yourself – and the answers!
What should I be doing prior to February 11th? 
  • Confirm with your payroll company that your employees pay stubs will show the following:
    • Amount of leave used; AND
    • Amount of leave available for use
  • If you do not use a payroll company, you will need to make sure your system is set-up to show the above information on each employees’ pay stub.
  • Confirm that you have an online system where employees can go to determine their balance of available earned sick and safe leave.
  • Confirm that your policy has been updated and is distributed to employees no later than February 11th.  HRSG strongly recommends you have employees sign a policy acknowledgment.
  • Confirm that your record keeping system is set up to keep records of accrued and used sick and safe leave for at least 3 years.
  • If you have employees who work variable hours and do not regularly work 12 or more hours per week, you need to determine which employees will be eligible to accrue sick and safe leave.
    • PLEASE NOTE:  If an employee who does not regularly work 12+ hours per week does work 12+ hours in a week (or 24 in a bi-weekly pay period), they are eligible to accrue sick and safe leave for any pay period in which they work 12 or more hours, or 24 or more hours in a 2-week period.  This does not mean they accrue every pay period; they will only be eligible to accrue in a pay period in which they work more than 12 hours in a week (or 24 or more hours in a 2-week period).
  • Decide whether you are going to allow employees to accrue sick and safe leave, OR if you are going to grant them their entire balance at the beginning of the year.  There are pros and cons for each model – you need to decide what works best for your organization and the culture of your organization.
How much time am I required to allow an employee to use when taking sick and safe leave?
When an employee uses sick and safe leave, you can set your policy to allow them to use leave in the smallest increment trackable by your payroll system.  You may also require employees to use earned sick and safe leave in increments of up to 4 hours.
If your payroll system can track 1-minute increments, you may use that increment, however, HR Strategy Group recommends you make sure you do not make the increment so small that you create an administrative nightmare for yourself.  You also want to think about the potential for lost productivity.  If an employee only needs to come in one hour late for a doctor’s appointment, you do not want to require them to use more time than needed, thus taking away from their ability to be productive for your organization and customers.
Can I require advance notice of the need for sick and safe leave?
  • If the need for leave was foreseeable, you can require an employee to provide no more than 7 days advance notice.
  • If the need for leave was not foreseeable, an employee must provide as much notice as is practicable and follow general procedural requirements.
Can I ever deny an employees’ request for sick and safe leave?
Yes, if:
  • The employee fails to provide you with notice; AND
  • The employee’s absence will cause a disruption to your organization.
Yes, if:
  • You are a private employer and are licensed to provide services to developmentally disabled or mentally ill individuals;
  • The need for sick and safe leave is foreseeable;
  • There is not a suitable replacement for the employee; AND
  • The employee’s absence will cause a disruption to at least one (1) individual with a developmental disability or mental illness.
What type of documentation can I require an employee to provide?
  • You can require verification that the leave was used appropriately if it was used for three (3) or more consecutive shifts.
  • If sick and safe leave was used between the 107th and 120th calendar days after hire, and the employee agreed upon hire to provide such verification for using sick and safe leave, you can require verification that the leave was used appropriately.
Does my policy have to include anti-retaliation language and advise employees how to seek redress if our organization does not comply? 
Yes, your policies are required to include this information and language.
What should our policy look like?
We have drafted SAMPLE policy language for various scenarios.  We want to ensure you are set up for success to be compliant with the law.  These policies are our way of saying, “Thank you for your trust in us.”  We can help you adapt these policies to your organization. Click here to download DRAFT MD Sick and Safe Leave Policies .

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