Local Ordinances on Paid Sick Leave Complicate Employee Benefit Strategies and Standards

On June 24, 2015, the Montgomery County, Maryland Council unanimously approved the Earned Sick and Safe Leave Bill. The law goes into effect on October 1, 2016 and provides paid sick leave to all employees in Montgomery County, Maryland. Employers have a little over a year to ensure they are in compliance with this new mandate.

Like other local and state paid sick leave laws around the country, employers must carefully parse the language in the law and review their leave policies to ensure compliance. As each new paid sick leave law is enacted, this task grows more difficult for some employers.

For employers located only in Montgomery County, the new law represents a small speed bump – yet another regulation that they must comply with. For employers with some employees in Montgomery County and others elsewhere, the law represents a more significant question – how to craft employee benefits that are fair for all employees and comply with the law, but are also in line with the employer’s benefits philosophy. Finally, for those employers who have employees in Montgomery County and in another jurisdiction that also has a paid sick leave law, the employer is tasked with a significant project. Because the paid sick leave laws vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, a one-size-fits-all policy is difficult to achieve.

For example, the new Montgomery County law requires that all employees in Montgomery County accrue sick leave at a rate of 1 hour for every 30 hours worked, but other laws, like Washington D.C.’s Accrued Sick and Safe Leave Act, establish a tiered accrual rate, based on the size of the employer (for example, an employer with 100 or more employees provides leave at a rate of 1 hour for every 37 hours worked, while smaller employers provide leave at a lower rate). An employer with employees in both places will need to carefully consider its obligations under both laws, and craft a sick leave policy that is compliant in both jurisdictions. The difficulty is compounded for each new paid sick leave jurisdiction the employer is in.

Laconic Lookout:

Employers with employees in multiple states or localities that have enacted paid sick leave legislation should carefully consider their obligations under the new laws and craft a paid sick leave policy that ensures compliance with all applicable jurisdictions, while remaining vigilant in monitoring new proposed or passed legislation in their communities.