In Maryland, most full-time employees who have worked at a company for a year are entitled to unpaid leave under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act and Maryland law. These laws typically apply to companies with at least 50 employees, although there are some that apply to organizations with only 15 employees.
What does the federal Family and Medical Leave Act require?
Under the FMLA, eligible employees can take up to 12 workweeks of leave per 12-month periods without losing their job or health insurance. The guaranteed leave can be unpaid, and any paid leave can run concurrent to the FMLA leave at the employer's discretion. The employee should continue to receive any benefits they would receive during a paid leave.
Eligible employees qualify for FMLA leave for any of the following purposes:
The birth of a child or, within one year of birth, to bond with the child. Mothers and fathers have the same rights. Only continuous leave is required, but employers can allow intermittent leave.
Adoption or foster care placement of a child or, within one year, bonding with the child. This can occur before or after the adoption or foster care placement, as required by the circumstances.
To deal with a serious health condition. This applies when a healthcare provider finds that the employee is unable to perform some or all of their job functions or needs to be absent in order to obtain treatment.
To care for a spouse, child or parent's serious health condition. The definitions of these family members are broad and also include those who have acted "in loco parentis" to a child despite having no formal legal or biological relationship to that child. The employee may provide caregiver duties or psychological comfort and reassurance.
To deal with qualifying exigencies due to the active-duty military service of the employee's spouse, child or parent. Such exigencies include, for example, spending time with a military family member who is on leave, attending military ceremonies or arranging care for the service member's child.
To care for the serious illness or injury of a military service member who is the employee's spouse, child, parent or next of kin. This applies to current service members and certain veterans and the employee is entitled to 26 workweeks of this leave.
Maryland law offers additional benefits:
When employers with 15 or more employees offer paid parental leave, they must offer the benefit on the same terms to adoptive parents.
Employers with 50 or more employees must give eligible employees a day off when an immediate family member is deployed or returns from active duty deployment abroad.
Your attorney can provide additional details about job-protected leave.