Maryland became the 10th state to enact paid family and medical leave covering private-sector workers statewide—a list that neighboring Delaware also could join soon.
The new Maryland law will ensure workers have up to 12 weeks annually of paid time off to tend to a new child, their own medical problem, or a family member’s serious illness or military deployment, with benefits set to begin Jan. 1, 2025. A parent could get up to 24 weeks if medical leave is needed during pregnancy followed by parental leave after childbirth. The legislature voted to override Gov. Larry Hogan (R) on April 9, a day after Hogan vetoed the legislation, S.B. 275.
The measure had broad support among the legislature’s Democratic majority, as a means of ensuring workers can take care of family and health needs that arise without losing income. Republicans largely opposed the plan, calling it an ill-timed financial burden to add to businesses and employees that are recovering from the pandemic and struggling with unusually high inflation.
Maryland joins nine other states and the District of Columbia in enacting statewide paid family and medical leave. New Hampshire also is launching a program that will let private-sector employers and workers opt into a state employee plan, although it doesn’t guarantee coverage or require that employers or employees pay into the benefits fund as the other states do.
Lawmakers in neighboring Delaware also are advancing a proposal this year to create a state-run paid leave program, in a bill that passed the Senate in March and is awaiting a House vote.
The payroll tax to fund Maryland’s program is scheduled to begin Oct. 1, 2023, to be split between employers and employees—with the tax rate to be determined through a state Department of Labor study.
Benefits will replace 90% of weekly wages for the lowest-income workers and a smaller percentage for higher-paid workers, up to a maximum of $1,000 per week.