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Maryland's paid parental leave law—it's about damn time


woman with newborn baby looks up Maryland's new paid parental leave law

The United States is the only wealthy country in the world that doesn't guarantee paid parental leave. And that's a problem. But, starting on January 1, 2025, many Maryland employees will be entitled to up to 12 weeks per year of paid parental leave. Let's get into the details.


Who's eligible?


To be eligible for paid parental leave in Maryland, you must:

  1. Apply for leave starting on or after January 1, 2025;

  2. Be an employee; and,

  3. Have worked at least 680 hours for that employer in the past 12-months.

Note: Maryland's paid parental leave law also applies to government workers. Md. Code Ann., Lab. & Empl. §§ 8.3-101 to 1001 (S.B. 275).


Maryland's paid parental leave law also applies to government workers.

We should mention here that this law, while primarily touted for parental leave, also provides paid leave benefits to care for a close family member (we'll cover this in another post).


How much are the benefits?


This is a difficult question to answer, because it depends on each year's average wages in Maryland, as calculated by Maryland's Department of Labor. Md. Code Ann., Lab. & Empl. § 8.3-703(B)(1), (2). But, we do know that payments can range from $50 to $1,000 per week, and based on current numbers, we'd estimate that most Maryland workers can expect 60-80% of their normal weekly pay (i.e., if you make $600 a week, your benefit could be in the range of $400 to $480 per week).


we estimate that most Maryland workers can expect 60-80% of their normal weekly pay, up to a maximum of $1,000 per week

Adding to the confusion, the calculations will change ever year, and the $1,000 maximum can also be modified (hopefully, higher) by the Secretary of the Maryland Department of Labor. Md. Code Ann., Lab. & Empl. § 8.3-401.


Here's an important portion of the law we haven't seen other people talking about. If your child becomes seriously ill in its first year, you are entitled to take another 12 weeks of leave to care for the child, even if you already took your full allowance of paid parental leave following the birth. Md. Code Ann., Lab. & Empl. § 8.3-702(A). In other words, if your newborn is seriously ill (in legal terms, has "a serious health condition"), you could be entitled to up to 24 weeks of paid parental leave.


if your newborn is seriously ill, you could get up to 24 weeks of paid parental leave

What's the catch?


There are few important things to keep in mind.


First, you will need to use all of your accrued paid leave (i.e., vacation, sick time) before getting paid parental leave under this law. Md. Code Ann., Lab. & Empl. § 8.3-702(C).


you will need to use all of your accrued vacation and sick time before getting paid parental leave

Second, you'll need to provide at least 30 days' written notice to your employer if the leave is foreseeable (i.e., a birth). But, if the need for leave is unforeseen (i.e., a premature birth or newborn's illness) you just need to provide notice "as soon as practicable." Md. Code Ann., Lab. & Empl., § 8.3-701(A)(2).


Lastly, while you are entitled to return to an "equivalent" position following your leave, you can still be terminated or laid off while on parental leave if your employer is having significant financial troubles. Md. Code Ann., Lab. & Empl. § 8.3-706(C).


Bottom Line


As of January 1, 2025, most Maryland employees will become eligible for up to 12 weeks of paid parental leave. But, you'll need to use up all of your sick and vacation time first, and provide advance written notice to your employer. If you have questions, schedule your confidential consultation with an employment lawyer here at the Employment Law Center of Maryland. We're here to help.