Paid Sick and Safe Leave Now Required In Montgomery County, MD

If you are a business owner in Montgomery County, MD and have more than one employee who works in the County, you must provide your employee(s) with paid sick and safe leave unless: the employee does not have a regular work schedule, contacts the employer for work assignments and schedules work within 48 hours after contact, has no obligation to work for the employer unless he/she initiates the contact AND is not employed by a temporary placement agency; the employee regularly works less than nine (9) hours a week or the person in question is employed as an independent contractor.

The breakdown for the amount of sick and safe leave that an employer must provide to his employee(s) is as follows:

  • Employers with five or more employees must provide at least one hour of paid leave for every 30 hours worked, not to exceed 56 hours of earned, paid leave in a calendar year.
  • Employers with fewer than five employees must provide leave at the same rate (i.e., one hour leave for every 30 hours worked, not to exceed 56 hours) per calendar year but only 32 of the 56 required hours must be paid.

Employees may use earned leave for any of the following reasons:

  • To care for an employee’s (or his/her family member’s) mental or physical condition.
  • To care for a family member who presents a risk to the community because of exposure to disease.
  • To allow an employee or his/her family member to obtain preventative medical care.
  • If the employee’s place of business or the school or childcare center of a family member is closed due to a public health emergency.
  • To seek medical attention, legal services or any services provided by victim’s organizations or to temporarily relocate due to domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking.

Employers may award paid leave as it accrues during the calendar year or may grant the full, required amount at the beginning of the year (or at the commencement of employment after the expiration of a 90-day probationary period to be utilized at the employer’s discretion). However, employers who use the accrual method must allow earned, unused leave to carry over from year to year; the “carry-over” amount may be capped at 56 hours per year and employers may limit the use of required leave to 80 hours per year. Employers are not required to compensate employees for unused leave upon termination and can permit (but cannot require) employees to work additional hours or trade shifts in lieu of using earned leave.

When leave must be paid, the employee must be compensated at his/her usual rate with normal benefits. But, for tipped employees, earned leave must be paid at the county’s minimum wage rate, which is currently $9.55 and will rise to $10.75 on July 1, 2016.  In order to use earned leave, employees must request leave as soon as practicable, notify the employer of the anticipated length of absence and comply with all reasonable procedures outlined by the employer concerning requesting and taking leave. Employees may use accrued leave in the smallest increment available under the employer’s payroll system. Employers cannot require employees to take leave in increments of more than four hours but can require employees to provide supporting documentation for the absence if the duration of leave exceeds three days.

We realize that these changes can have a great impact on local employers. At Weiss LLP, we have helped numerous business owners navigate ever-changing laws and regulations that affect the workplace. Want to find out more about this or other laws which may impact your business? Please call us at 202-296-2121 to set up an appointment today!