Paid sick leave, like paid family leave, is one example of an employment law issue where states are acting without waiting for the federal government. While former President Obama issued an Executive Order establishing paid sick leave for federal contractors, there is no federal law requiring private sector employers to offer paid sick leave. Because paid sick leave regulations can result in serious changes to your balance sheet and staffing plans, it is important to make sure your company is aware of and in compliance with state paid sick leave laws.
Earlier this year, Maryland became the eighth state to enact paid sick leave. In 2011, Connecticut was the first state to require that employers provide paid sick leave. Over the next few years, California, Massachusetts, Oregon, Vermont, Arizona, the District of Columbia, Washington, and Rhode Island all followed. Washington’s paid sick leave law just took effect on January 1, 2018, and employers must be in compliance with Rhode Island’s law starting on July 1, 2018.
The Maryland legislature overrode the Governor’s veto to enact the Maryland Healthy Working Families Act, which will take effect on February 11, 2018 – just 30 days after the law passed. Are you ready? Under Maryland’s law, businesses with at least 15 employees will be required to provide employees with earned sick and safe leave paid at the employee’s regular rate of pay.
Starting next month, employees in Maryland will be able to accrue up to five days of paid sick or safe leave per year. Employees will be able to use this time to deal with personal physical or mental conditions, take care of a sick loved one, for maternity or paternity leave, or for time to recover from domestic violence or sexual assault. While Maryland’s law requires all companies with 15 or more employees to provide paid sick leave, some workers are excluded from these requirements. For example, minor employees, some agricultural workers, employees who regularly work less than 12 hours per week, workers who are directly employed by an employment agency that provides part-time or temporary work, some real estate professionals, construction workers who are members of collective bargaining agreements that expressly waive the requirements of the law, and some as-needed health services providers who may accept or reject shifts are all excluded from the new requirements.
As more and more states enact paid sick leave laws, it is important for companies reviewing their sick time policies to keep up to date on whether the states where they do business have paid sick leave laws, so as not to violate new regulations.