FAQs on the new statewide sick and safe leave law

This handy reference was prepared by the Public Justice Center and circulated by Working Matters Maryland (part of the Job Opportunities Task Force), both of whom fought for more than four Assembly sessions to get this passed (and affirmed with a veto override this session after it was vetoed in 2017 by Gov. Larry Hogan).This version was updated with new information January 25.

 More information on the Healthy Working Families Act and about Public Justice Center is here. Pass this along to anyone you know who may need information about their workplace rights under this new law.

 Healthy Working Families Act 2018 -- FAQ on Maryland’s new paid sick days law  

This handy reference was prepared by the Public Justice Center and circulated by Working Matters Maryland (part of the Job Opportunities Task Force), both of whom fought for more than four Assembly sessions to get this passed (and affirmed with a veto override this session after it was vetoed in 2017 by Gov. Larry Hogan).

 More information on the Healthy Working Families Act and about Public Justice Center is here. Pass this along to anyone you know who may need information about their workplace rights under this new law.


 UPDATED January 25 by the compilers, PJC and Working Matters Maryland


When does the Healthy Working Families Act (HWFA) go into effect?
The HWFA becomes law on February 11, 2018. On that day, covered employees begin earning leave.


What does this law do?
HWFA allows workers in Maryland to earn paid or unpaid sick and safe leave. HWFA is not a general paid-time off policy but instead a law that will allow workers to take care of their health and safety and that of their family members.


Does HWFA apply to all of Maryland workers?
HWFA has certain limitations and does not apply to all Maryland workers. Specifically, HWFA does not apply to the following: agricultural workers; realtors; workers under the age of 18; workers employed by a temporary services agency to provide temporary staffing services to another person; workers directly employed by an employment agency to provide part-time or temporary services to another person; workers who regularly work fewer than 12 hours week; workers in the construction industry covered by a collective bargaining agreement waiving sick and safe leave in clear and unambiguous terms; workers who are on-call in the health or human services industry that can reject or accept a shift, are not guaranteed to be called for work, and are not employed by a temporary staffing agency.


Which workers get paid versus unpaid sick and safe leave?
• Those who work for employers that have 15 or more employees can earn paid sick and safe leave.
• Those who work for employers that have 14 or less employee can earn unpaid sick and safe leave.


What is the difference between sick leave and safe leave?
Sick leave is time used to care for an illness and/or preventive care. Safe leave is time used to address a situation in which safety is at risk, such as domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking. Both types of leave are permitted.


How soon can an employee use sick and safe leave?
Covered employees begin earning leave on February 11, 2018. Employers may require new employees to wait 106 days before they can use their earned leave, though they begin accruing it as soon as they start working. However, employers may choose to allow their employees to access their earned leave at any point prior to the 106-day waiting period.


How does HWFA impact businesses that already provide sick days to their employees?
The business may continue with its current paid-time off policy so long as the policy meets the law’s minimum time requirements (up to 40 hours per year) and allows workers to use the time off for sick and safe leave.