On October 1, 2021, new employee leave obligations took effect in both Maryland and the District of Columbia.
Maryland Bereavement Leave Law
In Maryland, employers with 15 or more employees must now permit employee use of accrued paid leave due to the death of the “member of an employee’s immediate family.” Employees are permitted to choose the type and amount of any unused paid leave available to them. “Immediate family member” includes a child, parent or spouse. “Child” includes biological, step, foster, and adopted children as well as legal wards. “Parent” means an adoptive, biological, or foster parent, a stepparent, a legal guardian, or a person standing in loco parentis to the employee. The law does not require an employee to advance any unaccrued paid leave and employees must comply with the terms of any applicable collective bargaining agreements and leave policies.
DC Paid Prenatal and Family and Medical Lave Law
The District of Columbia passed laws expanding the Universal Paid Leave Act (“UPLA”) and eligibility for leave under the D.C. Family and Medical Leave Act (“DCFMLA”). The UPLA now explicitly provides for two weeks of leave for prenatal medical care, separate from an employee’s right to parental leave. Eligible employees may use the maximum of both the prenatal and parental leave, but cannot combine prenatal leave and medical leave to exceed the annual medical leave cap. The number of weeks of paid leave through October 1, 2022, was also expanded to include 8 work weeks of parental leave, 6 work weeks of medical and family leave and 2 work weeks of prenatal leave. Maximum leave durations may be decreased or increased in the future depending upon funding. The amendment to the UPLA also permits employees to retroactively apply for leave benefits for up to 30 days unless the employee was unable to apply due to exigent circumstances. “Exigent circumstances” may include, among other things, an employer’s failure to provide the employee with notice of the employee’s right to file a claim for UPLA leave benefits.
The District of Columbia also expanded employee eligibility under the DCFMLA. An employee may now be covered if the individual worked 1,000 hours for the same employee for 12 non-consecutive months in the seven years immediately preceding the need for leave. Prior to October 1, 2021, employees were required to work 1,000 hours during the prior consecutive 12-month period to become eligible for DCFMLA benefits.
Employers with employees in Maryland and District of Columbia should make sure that their leave policies and notices are compliant with the various leave laws of those jurisdictions. For questions about Maryland and District of Columbia employment laws contact Melissa McGuire at firstname.lastname@example.org or 410-573-2904.
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