Montgomery County Sick Leave/Safe Time

Jan 27, 2017 | Domestic Workers' Rights, Labor Laws

Montgomery-County-Sick-Leave-Safe-TimeEmployers must provide employees who work in Montgomery County, MD for generally more than eight hours per week, whether full-time, part-time, or temporary, with Earned Sick/Safe Leave (ESSL) based upon the number of hours worked. The Montgomery County Sick Leave law does not apply to employees whose terms and conditions of employment are covered by a contract or collective bargaining agreement that provides general paid leave that meets the minimum requirements of the ordinance


All employees will earn one hour of ESSL for every 30 hours worked, up to a total of 56 hours per year. Use may be limited to 80 hours per year. Carryover may be limited to 56 hours per year. Employers with four or fewer employees are only required to pay for the first 32 hours earned and used; any remaining earned leave may be unpaid.

Exempt employees will be presumed to work 40 hours per week unless they are regularly scheduled to work fewer hours, in which case accrual will be based on their usual schedule. Accrual will begin immediately upon employment.

Use of Leave

Employers may prevent employees from using any time accrued until after their 90th day of employment. Employees must be allowed to take leave in the smallest increment used by the employer to account for absences or work time, but may not be required to use more than four hours at a time.

Employers cannot require employees to find their own replacement worker as a condition of taking ESSL.

Employees may use ESSL for the following:

  • Diagnosis, care, or treatment of an employee’s mental or physical illness, injury, health condition, or need for preventive medical care;
  • Diagnosis, care, or treatment of an employee’s family member’s mental or physical illness, injury, health condition, or need for preventive medical care;
  • In the case of a public health emergency that causes the employee’s place of business or the employee’s child’s school or place of care to be closed;
  • When a health authority or health care provider determines that the employee or their family member should stay home in order to prevent the spread of a communicable disease;
  • To seek any medical attention, legal or victim’s services or to temporarily relocate due to domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking.

Family members include:

  • Children, whether biological, adopted, step, foster, or a child for whom the employee has legal or physical custody or guardianship, or a child for whom the employee is the primary caregiver;
  • Parents, whether biological, adoptive, foster or step-parent of the employee or the employee’s spouse;
  • Legal guardian of the employee;
  • Grandparents, or spouses of grandparents;
  • Grandchildren;
  • Siblings, whether biological, adopted, or foster;
  • Spouses.


When ESSL is used, it must be paid at the employee’s regular rate of pay. Unused leave need not be paid out at the end of employment. Employees rehired within nine months of termination will receive previously accrued unused paid sick leave unless the employee voluntarily left without good cause.


From employees: Employers may request not more than seven days’ advance notice if the need for leave is foreseeable, and notice as soon as possible if the need for leave is not foreseeable.

From Employers: Employers must provide employees written notification of their rights under the ordinance; this may be done via posting in a conspicuous location in each workplace, distribution of the notice to each employee upon hire, or by publishing the notice in an employee handbook to which every employee has access. This notice must be in the employee’s primary language if provided by the Office for Human Rights. Compliant notices prepared by the Office can be found here.


Employers may request reasonable documentation that ESSL was used properly after an employee has missed more than three consecutive days or shifts.

Employers must keep records of hours worked, rate of pay, and ESSL accrual and use for three years. These records must also be made available, upon reasonable request, to the Office for Civil Rights for the purpose of monitoring and compliance.

Employers must inform employees in writing of their available ESSL each pay period. This may be done through an online system used by employees to access their payroll information.

Employee health information, and that of employees’ relatives, should be kept confidential unless the employee grants permission for its release.

Infringement and Retaliation

It is unlawful for an employer or any other person to deny, interfere with, or fail to pay for ESSL an employee has the statutory right to use. Employers also must not implement or enforce an absence control policy that has the intent or effect of making the use of leave afforded by this ordinance a cause for discipline. Retaliation or discrimination with respect to terms and conditions of employment because an employee inquires about, requests, or uses ESSL, or initiates or participates in any investigation related to this ordinance is unlawful.

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