Maryland Time to Care Act of 2022
On April 9, 2022, Maryland became the most recent state to enact a paid family leave law with the passing of the Time to Care Act of 2022 (the “Time to Care Act”). This law will provide up to 12 weeks of paid leave (up to 24 weeks in certain situations) to covered individuals for specific qualifying reasons.
Eligible leave under the Time to Care Act will be paid from a fund called the Family and Medical Leave Insurance fund (the “Fund”), which shall be administered by the Maryland Secretary of Labor. The Fund shall consist of money received from different sources including employee contributions, self-employed individual contributions, and employer contributions.
Commencing on October 1, 2023, all employees and employers with 15 or more employees will be required to make contributions to the Fund. In addition, self-employed individuals who elect to participate in the program will be required to make contributions to the Fund commencing on that date. These contributions, which are in essence a payroll tax, will be used to pay for the leave benefits under the law.
To be eligible to receive benefits under the Time to Care Act, an employee must have worked at least 680 hours over the 12-month period immediately preceding the date on which leave is to commence.
Beginning January 1, 2025, a covered individual (which is defined under the statute to include both covered employees and self-employed individuals who elect to participate in the program) will be able to submit a claim for benefits under the Time to Care Act when a qualifying event occurs. The benefits provided under the law can be used by a covered individual to:
1. Care for a newborn child or a child newly placed for adoption, foster care, or kinship care with a covered individual during the first year after the birth, adoption, or placement; Care for a family member with a serious health condition;
2. Care for a family member with a serious health condition;
3. Attend to a serious health condition that results in the covered individual being unable to perform the functions of the covered individual’s position;
4. Care for a service member with a serious health condition resulting from military service who is the covered individual’s next of kin; or
5. Attend to a qualifying exigency arising out of the deployment of a service member who is a family member of the covered individual.
Covered individuals receiving benefits under the Time to Care Act will be paid a benefit amount that is determined on a case-by-case basis between $50 and $1,000 per week. The maximum amount of benefits, initially set at $1,000 per week, is subject to adjustment during each succeeding 12-month period beginning on January 1, 2025 based upon the annual percentage growth in the Consumer Price Index for all urban consumers for the Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV metropolitan area or a successor index published by the Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Before a covered individual can receive benefits under the Time to Care Act, he or she must first exhaust all employer provided leave that is not required to be provided under the law.
Benefits under the Time to Care Act may be taken by a covered individual continuously or an intermittent basis.
Leave under the Time to Care Act is job protected. With limited exceptions, if a covered employee receives benefits under the Time to Care Act or takes leave from work for which benefits may be paid under the law, then his or her employer must restore the covered employee to an equivalent position of when the covered leave ends.
There are certain notice requirements under the Time to Care Act. Employers are required to provide written notice to each employee of the employee’s rights and duties under the Time to Care Act at the time of hire and annually thereafter. Further, when an employee requests leave under the Time to Care Act or when an employer knows that an employee’s leave may be covered under the statute, the employer must notify the employee of his or her eligibility to take leave for which benefits may be paid under the law within 5 business days.
An employer may seek an exemption from and satisfy the requirements of the Time to Care Act if the employer provides a private employer plan consisting of employer-provided benefits, insurance, or a combination of both. The plan must be offered to all eligible employees and must meet or exceed the rights, protections, and benefits provided under the Time to Care Act. If an employer wants to seek such an exemption, its private employer plan must be filed with the Maryland Department of Labor for approval.
Given the significance of the Time to Care Act, employers in Maryland should act now to ensure compliance with the law.
Disclaimer: The opinions raised in this blog are solely those of the author. The information contained in this blog is general in nature and is not offered, and cannot be considered as legal advice for any particular situation.