Maryland’s New Sick & Safe Leave Requirement

January 25, 2018

Update March 9
The sample model policies are now available from the Maryland Department of Labor.

Update February 16
On February 6, the Maryland Senate voted to adopt Senate Bill 304 to delay implementation of HWFA until July 1, 2018. However, the bill is highly unlikely to pass due to an unfavorable report issued by the House Economic Matters Committee on February 16. We will update this page as more information becomes available. Until further notice, this law as described below is already in effect. Please also reference the recently issued FAQ and poster for additional details.


Effective February 11, 2018, all Maryland employers must provide sick and safe leave under the Maryland Healthy Working Families Act (HWFA).

Minimum Leave Requirement

For employers with at least 15 Maryland employees, paid leave must accrue at a minimum rate of 1 hour for every 30 work hours, up to at least 40 hours of leave annually. For employers with fewer than 15 Maryland employees, leave will accrue at the same rate but may be unpaid. Employers are not required to accrue leave for certain employees, such as those working less than 12 hours per week, under age 18, or in certain industries.

Carryover and Accruals

Employees must be allowed to carryover up to 40 hours of accrued leave each year, unless the full amount of leave is provided at the start of each year. However, employers can limit leave usage and accrual to 64 hours in a year, and no accrued leave is required to be paid upon an employee’s termination. If the employer allows leave to be used before it is accrued, at termination the employer may deduct the amount of used, unearned leave from the final pay if the employee gave written consent.

Use of Leave

Leave starts to accrue on the employee’s date of hire, but an employer may restrict use of the leave until after the employee’s initial 106 calendar days of employment. After 106 days, an employee must be allowed to use sick and safe leave as it accrues, subject to the employer’s smallest payroll system increments, which may not be more than 4 hours. Leave must be available to employees to use for any of the allowed sick and safe leave reasons (refer to comparison chart).

Notification Requirements

Employers are required to notify employees of this new law, including how leave is accrued, how leave may be used, that the employer may not take adverse employment action due to an employee exercising their rights under this law, and how to report violations to the Commissioner of Labor and Industry. The Commissioner is responsible for providing employers with a poster, model notice, model employee handbook language, and technical assistance for implementing the new leave policy.

For a draft sample notice poster, FAQ, official updates, and other resources from the MD DLLR, please visit the new paid leave website. If the employer does not provide an online system that shows the available leave balance, a written statement of leave balances must be provided every pay period.

HWFA and Current Leave Policies

If an employer’s current sick leave or PTO policy meets or exceeds the HWFA’s requirements, there is no need for policy revisions, but HWFA notification requirements still apply.

Montgomery County employees remain entitled to the benefits of the Montgomery County Earned Sick and Safe Leave (ESSL), as well as any additional benefits under HWFA. The good news is that employer leave policies that comply with the ESSL also comply with HWFA, with one possible exception – allowing leave to be used for maternity and paternity absences is required by HWFA but not by ESSL. If the employer’s sick and safe leave policy, or other leave policy, provides leave for those reasons that is at least as favorable as the HWFA, no revision will be necessary.

A summary of the Maryland HWFA compared to the Montgomery County ESSL is provided in this chart.

Short Notice for HWFA Effective Date

The Maryland leave requirement starts only 30 days after the vote, which is relatively short notice. The HWFA had been passed by the General Assembly in April 2017 with a January 1, 2018 effective date. But in May 2017, Governor Hogan vetoed the bill with the hope of getting a different bill passed this year. Since the General Assembly vote to override the veto on January 12, 2018 occurred after the original effective date had already passed, the Maryland constitution (Section 17 (d)) makes the law effective 30 days after the vote, which is February 11, 2018.

If you have any questions, please contact your Keller account team.