What does the Healthy Working Families Act do?
The Healthy Working Families Act lets Marylanders take care of their families when illness strikes by allowing them to earn paid sick days.
Workers earn one hour of sick time for every thirty hours they work, up to a maximum of 40 hours (or 5 days).
- Workers at businesses with 15 employees or more will be able to earn paid sick time.
- Workers at businesses with less than 15 employees will earn un-paid sick time, allowing them to take a day off without fear of losing their job.
An employee must work at least 12 hours a week on average to qualify for sick leave under the Healthy Working Families Act. Workers begin accruing earned sick leave immediately, but cannot use their earned sick leave until they have spent 106 days on the job.
If adopted, the Healthy Working Families Act will take effect on January 1, 2018.
Have other states guaranteed earned paid sick days by law?
Yes. Seven other states, 33 localities, and the District of Columbia have passed earned paid sick days laws, and many other states are considering passing similar laws. Compared to many of these states’ laws, the Healthy Working Families Act is a middle-of-the-road solution. For example, the State of California, requires all businesses to allow employees to earn paid sick days, whereas Maryland’s legislation only requires businesses with 15 employees or more to allow workers to earn paid sick days.
If my business uses shift swapping to help accommodate workers’ schedules, can I still do that?
Yes, the Healthy Working Families Act allows for shift swapping as long as the employer and employee mutually consent. If there is no mutual consent, the employee reserves the right to take an earned sick day.
What if an employee abuses their sick leave?
While this is a very rare occurrence – studies in other states show that employees rarely even use all their sick days – the Healthy Working Families Act protects businesses by allowing an employer to deny leave if an employee exhibits a pattern of abuse. The bill also allows a business to require verification, such as a doctor’s note, after two consecutive missed shifts.
If my employer refuses to allow me to use paid sick time I have earned, do I have any recourse?
If an employer wrongfully denies an employee sick leave, the employee may file a complaint against the business owner with the Department of Labor & Licensing Regulation. The Department will then investigate, mediate and/or resolve the issue at hand within 90 days.
If the Department finds a violation has occurred, an order may be issued:
- Describing the violation.
- Directing payment of unpaid leave and any actual damages.
If the business ignores this order, even after they have gone through the mediation process with the Department, the Department is permitted but not required to send the case to the Attorney General’s office.
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