Welcoming a new addition into your family is both an exciting and overwhelming experience. The last thing any new parent should have to worry about in the midst of welcoming a new family member is his/her job. Not just time off, but compensation and a sense of security, knowing that your job will be there for you when you are ready. The United States is beginning to focus on the importance of parental leave but it still does not have any form of paid parental leave. In response to the need and requests of their constituents, many states have taken it upon themselves to enact their own form of parental leave. Read on to find out what Maryland has done for its moms and dads.
Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
FMLA entitles certain employees up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for specified family and medical reasons (i.e. the birth of a baby or to deal with a serious medical diagnosis). FMLA is regulated by the federal government. Public agency employees are covered under FMLA but for private sector employees, your employer must employ 50 or more employees. There are a number of criteria an employee must meet in order to be eligible for FMLA benefits:
- Employer must be covered;
- Employee must have worked for employer for at least 1,250 hours over 12 months;
- Work at a location within the United States or any of its territories where at least 50 employees are employed within a 75-mile radius.
Employees who are eligible to receive benefits under the FMLA can take their 12 weeks of leave during any 12-month period for a number of reasons:
- Birth of a child or need to provide childcare (must be taken within 12 months of birth);
- Adoption or fostering of child (must be taken within 12 months of placement);
- Care for a spouse, child or parent with a serious health condition*;
- If you have a serious health condition and can no longer perform the duties of your job.
*The term “serious health condition” refers to any condition (illness, injury, impairment, physical/mental condition) that involves inpatient care at a medical facility and/or regular treatment by a doctor or therapist.
For full details on what FMLA is and how to use it, the United States Department of Labor has put together an informational guide for employees. You can view this guide here.
Maryland’s Parental Leave Act (MPLA)
MPLA requires an employer in Maryland that has between 15 and 49 employees to provide eligible employees with 6 weeks of unpaid parental leave benefits for the birth, adoption or foster placement of a child. MPLA was designed to supplement FMLA; where FMLA applies to employers of more than 50 employees, MPLA applies to smaller businesses with fewer than 50 employees. MPLA further differs from FMLA as it applies only to employees who have given birth, adopted or began fostering a child; it does not cover leave for medical reasons (but the Maryland Healthy Working Families Act (MHWFA) may fill in that gap. More on that later.)
Like FMLA, MPLA requires that employees must have worked at least 1,250 hours in a 12-month period prior to taking their leave. Both FMLA and MPLA stipulate that an employee’s job is protected while he/she is on leave. Upon returning to work, employees must be reinstated to their same position or to a similar position, with work conditions, pay rates and schedules all the same. While the employee is on leave, the employer must maintain health insurance, as long as the employee is registered under the employer’s group health insurance plan.
Employers are not allowed to retaliate against an employee for taking either FMLA or MPLA leave, but employees must also comply with certain requirements. If the employee is retaliated against or the employee is non-compliant with FMLA or MPLA requirements, there are several courses of action covered under FMLA / MPLA that the employees or employer can take. For help in this matter, or any matter concerning FMLA or MPLA, please contact the Employment Law attorneys for Ferrante, Dill & Hisle, LLC. Give us a call today at (410) 535-6100 or send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.