Maryland's Time to Care Act
The Maryland General Assembly recently passed modifications to the Time to Care Act of 2022 (SB 275/HB8). Maryland is the 12th state (including DC) to institute a paid family and medical leave act. This act established the Family and Medical Leave Insurance (FAMLI) division under the Maryland Department of Labor. According to the Maryland DOL, FAMLI “will ensure that workers in Maryland have access to paid leave when they need to be away from work to care for themselves or a family member.”
The Time to Care Act provides 12 weeks of paid leave per year for any covered reason, including:
- Caring for or bonding with a newborn child or a child recently adopted, fostered, or in kinship care
- Caring for a family member with a serious health condition
- Attending to the employee's own serious health condition that prevents the employee from performing their job
- Caring for a next of kin military service member with a serious health condition resulting from military service
- Attending to quality military exigencies
While employees are generally restricted to 12 weeks of paid leave per year, employees may in some cases receive up to 24 weeks of paid leave per year. An employee may take up to 12 additional weeks of paid parental leave in addition to 12 weeks of paid leave for other reasons in a single year.
New Changes to the Time to Care Act
The new changes will add a critical provision mandating employee and employer contribution rates at 50/50 to the sweeping paid family and medical leave program enacted last year.
Additional provisions include:
- Delaying the start for contributions till October 1, 2024
- Delaying to start for benefit payments to January 1, 2026
- Setting a contribution rate cap to not exceed 1.2% of the employee's wages
- Changing the requirement that employees must first exhaust all employer-provided leave
- Allowing employers to manage benefit coordination with their employer-provided leave
- Addition of "domestic partners" of the covered employee as "family members"
The changes were signed by Governor Moore on May 3, 2023.
With these changes, employees in Maryland now have access to much-needed paid time off that can help them care for themselves or their families without having to worry about lost wages.
What About Federal PFML?
The United States stands out among developed nations for not federally mandating paid family and medical leave (PFML), although there have been strides on the state level to provide such benefits.
The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) of 1993 provides certain employees with up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave per year. It also requires that their group health benefits be maintained during the leave. This legislation applies to companies with 50 or more employees, and the leave can be used for the birth and care of a newborn child, placement with the employee of a child for adoption or foster care, to care for an immediate family member with a serious health condition, or when the employee is unable to work due to a serious health condition.
While FMLA offers job protection, it does not guarantee any form of paid leave. As a result, this can put a significant financial strain on families dealing with a major life event or health issue. Recognizing this, some states - now including Maryland - have taken steps to implement their own paid family and medical leave policies.
How Emejuru Law Can Help Protect Your Rights
At Emejuru Law, we want you to understand your rights as an employee in Maryland as this law comes into effect in the coming years. If your employer is denying you paid leave or other benefits to which you are entitled, the experienced employment lawyers at Emeruju Law can help you.
Contact us online or call us at (240) 607-5552 for a confidential consultation to learn more about your rights and how we can help protect them.