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By:  David Burkhouse, Esquire

In the wake of the controversy that led to Maryland’s adoption of the Maryland Healthy Working Families Act which requires private employers to provide certain employees paid sick and safe leave, Maryland has continued to expand the scope of the framework under which employees can receive paid leave. On October 1, 2018, SB0859, Parental Leave, took effect which extends 60 days of paid leave to state employees upon the birth of a child or adoption of a child under six years of age. Prior to being granted any paid parental leave under the law, employees are required to exhaust available annual and personal leave.  Employees are not required, however, to exhaust paid sick leave or sick and safe leave in order to be granted paid parental leave.  This will allow employees to have access to paid leave for their or their child’s illness or doctor’s appointments upon return to work following the birth or adoption.

Similarly, with HB0306, Rights and Protections For Nursing Mothers, which also took effect on October 1, 2018, the General Assembly enacted the requirement that state employees be provided with a private place, other than a bathroom, to use for the purpose of expressing breast milk and adequate break time in order to do so.

The extension of paid leave in SB0859 and breastfeeding women’s rights in HB0306 apply only to state employees and does not create a mandate for private employers.  However, private employers beware, the enactment of these laws is a good indication of the direction in which the General Assembly is moving and proposals to expand mandatory parental leave and other employee protections to the private sector are sure to follow.

Mr. Burkhouse is a Member with PK Law and is part of the firm’s Education, Labor and Employment Group. As part of Mr. Burkhouse’s employment law practice he counsels and represents employers regarding employment discrimination claims arising under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967. Mr. Burkhouse also advises employers with regard to non-compete agreements, restrictive covenants, arbitration agreements, trade secrets, confidentiality agreements, and employee hiring and termination procedures.  Mr. Burkhouse can be reached at (410) 740-3150 or dburkhouse@pklaw.com.