Employment Attorneys Prepare Clients for Paid Sick Leave Law

Sarah Sawyer and Russell B. Berger Featured in the Daily Record

Sarah M. Sawyer and Russell B. Berger, Attorneys at Offit Kurman. (The Daily Record/Maximilian Franz)

Mandatory paid sick leave is now law in Maryland after years of debate, and employment attorneys are making sure both employers and employees are prepared for changes that will impact 700,000 workers in the state.

“Most employers that we work with offer some type of paid leave policy,” said Sarah Sawyer of Offit Kurman in Baltimore. “The conversation is to then look at what their policies are, what they offer and see if they’re compliant.”

But even employers with paid sick leave policies will probably need to make some changes thanks to the Healthy Working Families Act, Sawyer said. Those modifications include examining the accrual method for leave (one hour for every 30 hours worked under the new law), carryover leave policies, how sick leave can be used and employee notice requirements.

The new law requires business with 15 or more employees provide at least five days of paid sick leave. The law also applies to employees working part-time for 12 hours a week. Businesses with 14 or fewer employees have to offer some form of unpaid leave for the same number of days.

“There is going to be more work in the details of leave policies than in the broad strokes, and it’s important that employers understand what’s going to affect them,” said Russell Burger, Sawyer’s colleague.

The definitions for what can qualify for paid sick leave is also broader under the new law, which now includes preventative care, care for family members, maternity and paternity leave and leave for domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking incidents.

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