In the midst of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) global pandemic, the CDC has recommended that everyone take steps to protect themselves and their communities, including avoiding close contact with others. If you have to take time off work sick, what are your legal rights? If your child’s school is closed or your work is closed, can you stay home with your children?
Find out more about your earned paid sick time or earned paid sick leave rights in Montgomery County, Maryland below. Please note that you may also have an additional right to emergency paid leave for COVID-19 purposes under federal law, as described in more detail here.
1) What does the Montgomery County Paid Sick Time law do?
It gives workers sick time that can be used to recover from physical/mental illness or injury; to seek treatment or preventative care; to care for a family member who is ill or needs treatment or preventative care; when the worker’s place of business is closed by order of a public official due to a public health emergency or to care for a child whose school or childcare provider has been closed by order of a public official due to a public health emergency; to care for a family member when a health official or health care provider determines that the family member’s presence in the community presents a public health risk because of exposure to a communicable disease; or to address needs that may arise if the worker or a family member is a victim of domestic violence, a sexual offense, or stalking.
2) Am I covered?
If you work as an employee in Montgomery County regularly for more than 8 hours a week, you are probably covered, whether you are a full-time or part-time worker. However, the law does not cover government employees other than employees of Montgomery County, independent contractors, and a few other narrow groups.
3) How much sick time can I earn?
You earn 1 hour of sick time for every 30 hours worked. If your workplace has 5 or more workers, you can earn up to a maximum of 56 hours of paid sick time per year. If your workplace has fewer than 5 workers, you can earn up to a maximum of 32 hours of paid sick time per year and 24 hours of unpaid sick time per year—but you can’t be fired or punished for taking it.
All covered employees are protected against being fired or punished for using or requesting their sick time (including threats, discipline, demotion, reduction in hours, termination, etc.).
4) What if my work or my child’s school or daycare is closed for a health emergency?
You can also use your sick time if your place of business is closed by order of a public official due to a public health emergency or to care for a child whose school or childcare provider has been closed by order of a public official due to a public health emergency.
5) Which of my family members are covered by the law?
Under the law, you can take sick time to care for yourself or a child, spouse, parent, legal guardian, parent of a spouse, grandchild, grandparent, spouse of a grandparent, sibling, or spouse of a sibling.
6) What if I already have paid leave or paid time off?
If you already get any paid leave (vacation, paid time off, etc.) that you can use as sick time and it’s at least the same amount you would earn under this law, the law does not give you any additional paid time off.
7) When can I begin using my sick time?
You start earning sick time immediately but cannot use it until 90 days after the start of your employment.
8) Do I need a doctor’s note?
Only after more than 3 consecutive days of absence (and the note does not have to specify your illness).
All covered workers are protected against being fired or punishedfor using or requesting sick or safe time. If you have a problem—or want more information—call A Better Balance’s free legal clinic at 1-833-NEED-ABB.
The Montgomery County Office of Human Rights is in charge of enforcing this law.
Please note that this fact sheet does not represent an exhaustive overview of the paid sick time law described, and it does not constitute legal advice. It is possible that additional provisions not described in this fact sheet may apply to a worker’s specific circumstances or category of employment.
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