Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley has approved legislation (SB 737 and House counterpart HB 1026) that provides up to six weeks of unpaid parental leave to employees in a 12-month period for the birth or adoption of a child. Employers with 15-49 employers are required to offer “Maryland PLA” effective October 1st, 2014.  

To be eligible for unpaid parental leave, an employee must have worked for the employer for at least one year and for 1,250 hours in the previous 12 months.  The law does not apply to:  (1) independent contractors; or (2) individuals employed at work sites where the employer employs fewer than 15 employees if the total number of employees employed by that employer within a 75-mile radius of the work site is also fewer than 15.

Employers, however, may deny the leave if “necessary to prevent substantial and grievous economic injury to the operations of the employer” and the employer gives notice of the denial to the employee prior to the commencement of the leave.

If paid leave is available, the employers may require, or employees may elect, to substitute paid leave for all or part of the parental leave. Employers are barred from terminating employees during the leave period except for cause. The new law also requires employers to pay any commissions resulting from work performed prior to the leave that become due during the leave period.

Employers, who are already required to maintain health insurance coverage during the leave period but may recover the cost of the premiums from employees who do not return from leave except in circumstances beyond their control, may now recover the premiums by deducting them from employees’ wages upon termination.

If you have any questions, please let us know.

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