Today, January 23, 2018, Senator “Mac” Middleton filed a bill to postpone for 60 days the enforcement of Maryland’s new sick and safe leave (SSL) law by the state Commissioner of Labor and Industry. Given the law’s effective date of February 11, 2018, this means that enforcement would begin on April 12, 2018. We strongly note, however, that compliance – including the commencement of SSL accrual – is still required as of the February 11 effective date.
The bill, which we believe has a strong likelihood of passing, was filed as “emergency legislation.” This means that, as long as it is passed by 3/5 of the total members of each House, it will take effect immediately upon signature by the Governor. The bill has been expedited for hearing before the Senate Finance committee, of which Senator Middleton is chair, on Wednesday, January 24.
On another point of interest to unionized employers, we note that the Maryland Healthy Working Families Act contains a provision that provides relief for some employers with existing collective bargaining agreements (CBAs), for the term of the agreement. Specifically, the law states “That this Act. . . may not be applied or interpreted to have any effect on or application to any bona fide collective bargaining agreement entered into before June 1, 2017, for the duration of the contract term, excluding any extensions, options to extend, or renewals of the term of the original agreement.”
As originally intended, the language would have exempted all current CBAs upon the passage of the bill last General Assembly session. Due to Governor Hogan’s veto of the bill and the delay until the recent veto override by the General Assembly, there is now a gap – so that companies that entered into a CBA on or after June 1, 2017 are required to come into compliance with the law upon its effective date of February 11, 2018.
Unionized employers with pre-June 1, 2017 CBAs should be aware that compliance will be required immediately upon expiration of the current contract, regardless of any extensions or renewals of the contract.
In addition, we would like to note that the law contains an exception specific to construction industry employees who are covered by a bona fide CBA in which the requirements of the law are expressly waived in clear and unambiguous terms. (By the terms of the law, “construction employees” do not include janitors, cleaners, security officers, concierges, doorpersons, handypersons, or building superintendents – who are entitled to the benefits of the law). This waiver exception is not available to any other unionized employers, who will be required eventually to comply with the law – whether now or at the end of their contract term.