What You Need to Know About Maryland Sick Leave Laws

Understanding the sick leave laws in your state is vital to obtaining the time off and benefits you deserve. Here’s all you need to know about Maryland’s sick leave laws.

Maryland law requires employers with 15 or more employees to provide paid sick leave and employers with fewer than 15 employees to provide unpaid sick leave. Employees can use sick leave for reasons such as treating their or a family member’s illness, obtaining preventative medical care, or for reasons related to domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking. Employers must provide sick and safe leave at the rate of 1 hour for every 30 hours they work, up to 40 hours.

Defining Sick Leave in Maryland

Maryland employers with 15 or more employees must provide paid sick and safe leave for certain employees under the Maryland Healthy Working Families Act. Maryland employers with fewer than 15 employees must provide unpaid sick and safe leave for certain employees. Employers calculate the number of employees by determining the average monthly employees of the immediately preceding year without regard to whether the employee is full-time, part-time, temporary, or seasonal.

Maryland allows employees to use sick and safe leave for the following reasons:

  • Caring for or treating a mental or physical illness, injury, or condition
  • Obtaining preventative medical care for themself or a family member
  • Caring for a family member with a mental or physical illness, injury, or condition
  • Taking maternity or paternity leave
  • Obtaining medical or mental health attention for domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking incidents in their own life or a family member’s life
  • Obtaining services from a victim services organization for domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking incidents in their own life or a family member’s life
  • Obtaining legal services or proceedings for domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking incidents in their own life or a family member’s life
  • Temporary relocation due to domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking incidents in their own life or a family member’s life

Maryland defines a family member as a spouse, child, parent, grandparent, grandchild, or sibling.

Related: Maryland Employment Laws: Your Rights

Employers establish the amount of sick and safe leave an employee can earn and may deny the time off in certain circumstances. Employees must provide notice of the need for sick and safe leave if it is foreseeable.

Maryland Leave of Absence Laws

Maryland law specifies employers may award earned sick and safe leave at the beginning of the year or allow employees to accrue earned sick and safe leave during the year. Employees must receive sick and safe leave at the rate of 1 hour for every 30 hours they work, up to 40 hours. Employees returning to employment within 37 weeks of leaving will receive the sick and safe leave they had before the job separation.

Employers awarding the leave at the beginning of the year must provide 40 hours of paid or unpaid sick leave at the beginning of each year. Workers will not receive pay for unused sick and safe leave after employment termination.

Employees receiving accrued earned sick and safe leave cannot take leave during:

  • A two-week pay period wherein the employee worked fewer than 24 hours.
  • A one-week pay period if the employee worked fewer than a combined total of 24 hours in the current and preceding pay period.
  • A pay period wherein the employee received pay twice a month and worked fewer than 26 hours.

Related: Maryland Workers’ Compensation Laws: Injured Employees

Maryland law outlines separate leave rules for restaurant employers with tipped employees. A tipped employee using earned sick and safe leave during a regularly scheduled shift may request to work additional hours or trade shifts with another employee instead of taking paid leave. The employer may deny this request and decide to pay the employee the minimum wage rate for the leave duration.

FAQs About Maryland Sick Leave Laws

How soon can I ask for sick and safe leave?

Employees cannot use their sick leave within the first 106 days of employment. Requests for leave between the 107th and 120th calendar days of starting the job require verification of the reasons for time off.

When do I need a doctor’s note?

Employees must present a doctor’s note to obtain leave after an absence of more than two consecutive shifts or before the 120th calendar day of their employment.

Does my employer have to inform me about my available sick and safe leave?

Employers must provide workers with a written statement of available earned sick and safe leave.

Can I file a complaint after my employer denies me sick and safe leave in Maryland?

Employees filing a complaint for denied sick and safe leave should contact the Maryland Commissioner of Labor and Industry.

Can an employer retaliate against me for taking sick and safe leave?

Maryland law prohibits employers from retaliating against employees using sick and safe leave. Employees experiencing retaliation can file a lawsuit against the employer within three years of the retaliation action.

What does the Maryland Essential Workers’ Protection Act do?

The Maryland Essential Workers’ Protection Act provides public health emergency leave related to COVID-19 to certain essential workers when federal or state funding is available since May 28, 2021. The law will remain in effect until the State of Emergency Proclamation due to COVID-19 expires.

Does Maryland offer paid family leave?

Maryland’s Time to Care Act of 2022 will go into effect on January 1, 2025, and establish paid family and medical leave for employees. The law will create a family and medical leave fund to provide temporary paid leave to eligible employees and self-employed workers.

When can my employer deny sick and safe leave?

Employers may deny sick and safe leave if all of the following conditions are present:

  • The employee could foresee the need to use earned sick and safe leave.
  • The employer could not find a suitable replacement after exercising reasonable diligence.
  • The employee’s absence will disrupt service to at least one person with a developmental disability or mental illness

Contact Us

If you or a loved one would like to learn more about Maryland Sick Leave Laws, get your free consultation with one of our Employment Attorneys in Maryland today!