Effective October 1, 2014, employers in Maryland with 15 to 49 employees, will be required to provide employees with job-protected unpaid leave for the birth, adoption or foster care placement of a child under the state’s new Parental Leave Act (PLA) (SB 737). The amount of protected unpaid leave under the PLA is only six weeks compared to the 12-week leave employees in larger companies receive under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).
To be eligible for PLA, employees must have been employed for at least 12 months and worked at least 1,250 hours during that period. At the conclusion of the leave, the employee must be restored to his or her previous position or to an equivalent position with equivalent benefits, pay and other terms and conditions of employment.
An anti-retaliation provision in the law prohibits employers from retaliating against employees for requesting or using the leave, making a PLA complaint, or participating in a related investigation. The PLA also authorizes an employee to file a lawsuit against his or her employer for violating the law.
We are still waiting for regulations from the Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation to provide additional guidance. Meanwhile, employers should review their leave policies and revise employee handbooks to ensure compliance with the law.