Last week, Maryland became the latest in a growing list of states to adopt a limited paid family leave law for employees working in that state. The new law allows Maryland employees to use any paid vacation or sick leave provided by the employer to care for an ill child, spouse or parent. Unlike the federal Family and Medical Leave Act, the paid leave may be used for any illness suffered by these family members, and is not limited to serious health conditions. The law does not mandate that employers provide paid leave to employees, and applies only to employers with 15 or more employees.
With this law, Maryland joins California, Maine, Washington and Minnesota as states that mandate some form of paid family leave. A bill that would make federal FMLA leave paid made significant progress in Congress this year, but did not garner enough support to overcome objections from business interests. In the absence of comprehensive federal legislation, it is likely that individual states will continue to adopt a patchwork of paid leave laws intended to provide employees with benefits for their own illnesses and those of their family members.