Effective October 1, 2016, Montgomery County will require employers to provide paid sick leave to their employees. “Sick and safe” leave under this amendment is earned for all work performed in the county. Employers with five or more employees must provide at least one hour of paid leave for every 30 hours worked, not to exceed 56 hours of earned paid leave in a calendar year. Employers with fewer than five employees must provide leave at the same rate – one hour for every 30 hours worked – and up to 56 hours of leave per year. However, for these small employers, only 32 hours must be paid and 24 hours can be provided on an unpaid basis. Employees exempt from overtime requirements earn leave pursuant to their normal workweek, up to 40 hours each week.
Employers may either award leave as it accrues throughout the calendar year or grant the full amount of leave to be earned over the course of the calendar year at the beginning of the year. Employers who utilize the accrual method must permit earned unused leave to carry over from year to year, although an annual carryover cap of 56 hours is permitted. Even with carryover, employers may limit the use of paid leave (or the combination of paid/unpaid leave for small employers) to 80 hours a year. Leave taken pursuant to this amendment is paid at the employee's usual rate and with the same benefits. For tipped employees, earned leave must be paid at the county's minimum wage rate, which is currently $9.55 on Oct. 1, 2015, but will rise to $10.75 on July 1, 2016. Leave accrues at the beginning of employment but employers may prohibit use during an initial 90-day probationary period.
Employees may elect to use leave in the smallest increment available under the employer's payroll system and must not be required to take leave in increments of more than four hours. Earned leave does not have to be paid upon termination.