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Maryland’s Healthy Working Families Act- How will it Impact the Farm?

Updated: Jul 22, 2020

By Sarah Everhart

Photo Credit Edwin Remsberg. This is an image of the Maryland State House.

The article is not a substitute for legal advice. See here for the site’s reposting policy.

Following a legislative override of Governor Hogan’s veto, the Healthy Working Families Act went into effect in Maryland on February 11, 2018. The law requires employers with 15 or more employees to provide paid earned sick and safe leave (safe leave includes certain uses related to domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking committed against the employee or the employee’s family member). Employers with 14 or fewer employees must provide unpaid earned sick and safe leave. The number of employees is calculated by determining the average monthly number of employees employed during the immediately preceding year, including part-time, temporary, and seasonal employees. Leave accrues at the rate of one hour for every 30 hours an employee works with a cap of 40 hours on the total amount which may be accrued. All employees who work in Maryland are entitled to accrue sick and safe leave unless they are exempt from coverage under the law.

One type of employee exempt from the requirements of the law is an individual “employed in the agricultural sector on an agricultural operation under § 5–403(A) of the Courts Article.” According to § 5–403(A)(2) of the Courts and Judicial Proceedings Article of the Maryland Code, an agricultural operation “means an operation for the processing of agricultural crops or on-farm production, harvesting, or marketing of any agricultural, horticultural, silvicultural, aquacultural, or apicultural product that has been grown, raised, or cultivated by the farmer.” This definition is from the Right to Farm section of the Maryland Code.

Other types of employees exempt from the law include those who work fewer than 12 hours a week, those under the age of 18, real estate brokers and salespersons, construction workers covered by certain bargaining agreements, on-call healthcare workers, independent contractors, and employees from temporary staffing agencies.

The law pre-empts local governments from passing their own sick leave laws after January 1, 2017. The only jurisdiction which has a sick leave law enacted before January 1, 2017 is Montgomery County.

Questions about how this new law will impact your employees? Email the Office of Small Business Regulatory Assistance at For more information, check out this list of frequently asked questions about the Act created by the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation.

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