Beginning October 1, 2014, all Maryland businesses with 15-49 employees will be required to provide up to six weeks of unpaid parental leave to an employee upon the birth of their child or the placement of an adopted or foster care child. The Parental Leave Law requires the employer to hold the employee’s job for up to six weeks or return the employee to an “equivalent position” when the employee returns within the six week leave period. In order to qualify under this law, the employee must have worked for the employer 12 months and a minimum of 1250 hours in the previous 12 months.
For employers with more than fifty employees, Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) already requires those employers grant 12 weeks of unpaid leave for various qualifying family and medical events, the new Maryland law is geared to providing employees who work for smaller employers with a lighter version of FMLA. One major difference is that the new Maryland law does not cover medical leave (as it is limited to parental leave) and it only provides for six weeks of leave. As is under FMLA, employee benefits must be maintained by the employer while on leave. Premiums may be recovered by the employer if the employee fails to return to work after the leave ends
Employers should update employee handbooks and draft Parental Leave Policy that adheres to the new law.