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Maryland Parental Leave Act

The Maryland Parental Leave Act (“Act”) went into effect as of October 1, 2014.  The Act applies to all employers, who employ at least fifteen (15), but less than forty-nine (49), employees in this state for the previous twenty (20) or more work weeks.  The Act provides eligible employees with the right to take up to six (6) weeks of unpaid parental leave during any twelve (12) month period for the birth of a child of the employee or the placement with the employee of a child for adoption or foster care.  An eligible employee is any employee who has been employed by the employer for at least twelve (12) months and worked at least 1,250 hours during the previous twelve (12) month period.  An employer may only deny such leave if the employer shows that denying such leave was necessary to protect the employer from substantial and grievous economic injury. 

Upon returning from parental leave an employee must be returned to the position the employee held prior to such leave or an equivalent position.   During parental leave the employer must also maintain the employee’s group health plan coverage as it would have it the employee had worked during the parental leave.

The Act also defines employer as ‘a person who acts, directly or indirectly, in the interest of an employer with respect to an employee of the employer’.  Based upon the Maryland court’s interpretation of this same definition of employer in wage and hour cases, individual owners and officer could potentially be held liable for a company’s failure to provide parental leave.

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