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Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) Maryland: How Does It Work?

8 min read
fmla maryland

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) in Maryland, established in 1993, fundamentally transformed the employee rights in the United States. It grants eligible employees the right to take unpaid, job-protected leave for specific family and medical reasons, while maintaining their health benefits.

However, the application of FMLA can vary from state to state, making it crucial for both employees and employers in Maryland to understand the specific nuances and requirements of the law within the state.

Whether you are an employee seeking clarity on your rights or an employer striving to ensure compliance, this article aims to provide a thorough understanding of the FMLA in Maryland, equipping you with the knowledge to effectively navigate this essential aspect of employment law.


What is Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)?

As a landmark piece of legislation in the United States, the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) was enacted in 1993. In the beginning, it was recognized that workers facing health crises, without losing their jobs, needed help.

In essence, FMLA allows employees 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave per year while maintaining their health insurance coverage. All government agencies, elementary and secondary schools, and companies with 50 or more employees are covered by this law. FMLA covers a wide range of situations, including illness, childbirth, adoption, and military family circumstances.

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FMLA: Eligibility Criteria in Maryland

In Maryland, the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) sets specific criteria to determine who is covered under its provisions.

criteria fmla maryland

  • Employer Eligibility: FMLA applies to private-sector employers with 50 or more employees within a 75-mile radius, for at least 20 workweeks in the current or preceding calendar year. It also encompasses all public agencies, including local, state, and federal employers, and public and private elementary and secondary schools, regardless of the number of employees.
  • Employee Eligibility: To be eligible for FMLA leave, an employee must have worked for a covered employer for at least 12 months (not necessarily consecutive). They must have worked a minimum of 1,250 hours during the 12 months prior to the start of the FMLA leave. The employee should be working at a location where the employer has at least 50 employees within a 75-mile radius.

Qualifying Reasons under the FMLA in Maryland

Under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) in Maryland, employees are entitled to take leave for several significant reasons:

reasons fmla maryland

  • Personal: Leave for an employee’s own serious health issue
  • Family Member’s Serious Health Conditions:  This includes to care for a spouse, child, or parent suffering from a serious health condition.
  • Birth, Adoption, or Foster Care Placement of a Child: FMLA allows parents to take leave for the birth of a child, as well as for the adoption or foster care placement of a child, providing time for bonding and care.
  • Military-Related Exigencies and Caregiver Leave: Employees may take leave for reasons related to a family member’s military service, including exigencies arising from a family member’s deployment. FMLA also provides for a longer leave (up to 26 weeks) to care for a family member who is a service member with a serious injury or illness.

Duration and Types of Family and Medical Leaves in Maryland

Duration of leaves under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

  • Maximum Duration of FMLA Leave: Employees are entitled to a maximum of 12 weeks of unpaid leave within a 12-month period. In the case of military caregiver leave, this duration extends to 26 weeks.

Types of Family and Medical Leaves in Maryland

  • Continuous Leave: This involves taking a continuous, uninterrupted leave period.
  • Intermittent Leave: This type of leave allows employees to take FMLA leave in separate blocks of time due to a single qualifying reason.
  • Reduced Schedule Leave: This allows an employee to reduce their working hours, either daily or weekly, for a period of time due to a qualifying reason.

Employee Rights and Employer Obligations Under the FMLA Leave

rights fmla maryland

Job Security

Employees are guaranteed the right to return to the same or an equivalent position.

This protection ensures job security, even after an extended period away for qualifying reasons.

Health Insurance Maintenance

Employers must maintain the employee’s health insurance under the same terms and conditions as if they had not taken leave.

Employees continue to be responsible for their portion of health insurance premiums.

Protection of Employee Benefits

Employee’s benefits are maintained as if the worker is actively working.

Employer’s Role in Granting Leave and Maintaining Compliance

Employers are required to grant leave to eligible employees for qualifying reasons under the FMLA.

They must also keep accurate records and comply with all aspects of the FMLA, including not interfering with, restraining, or denying the exercise of FMLA rights.

Employers are prohibited from retaliating against employees for taking FMLA leave.

How To Request FMLA Leave in Maryland

Step-by-Step Guide on How Employees Can Request FMLA Leave

  1. Determine Eligibility: You must work at a location with 50 or more employees within a 75-mile radius and be employed for at least 12 months by a covered employer.
  2. Understand the Reason for Leave: Determine your FMLA qualifying reason, such as personal health issues, family member care, birth or adoption of a child, or military exigencies.
  3. Notify Your Employer: Notify your employer in writing or verbally of your need for FMLA leave. While immediate notice is not always possible, FMLA generally requires 30 days’ advance notice.
  4. Submit Required Forms and Documentation: Complete any FMLA leave request forms provided by your employer. Provide medical certification or other required documentation to support your leave request, such as a doctor’s note or military orders, if applicable.
  5. Await Employer Response: After submitting your request, your employer must respond within five business days, notifying you of your eligibility and detailing any additional information required.
  6. Coordinate Leave Details: Discuss with your employer the specifics of your leave, such as the start date, duration, and any potential need for intermittent leave or a reduced schedule.
  7. Understand Your Rights and Responsibilities: Review the rights and responsibilities under FMLA, including job protection, health insurance continuation, and any obligations you have during your leave.

Documentation and Notice Requirements

  • Medical Certification: If you need leave due to serious medical conditions (personal or family), provide a medical certificate. The certification should include the date the condition began, its expected duration, and relevant medical facts.
  • Advance Notice: In case of foreseeable leave, such as childbirth or planned medical treatment, provide at least 30 days’ notice.
  • Periodic Updates: Keep your employer informed about your status and intent to return to work, especially if the leave duration changes.
  • Fitness-for-Duty Certification: Provide your employer with a fitness-for-duty certification before returning to work from serious health leave.

Federal vs State Specifics: Comparison of FMLA and Maryland’s State Law (TTCA)

In comparing the Federal Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) with Maryland’s state-specific laws, several notable distinctions emerge, particularly with the introduction of Maryland’s Time to Care Act (TTCA) which establishes a paid family and medical leave (PFML) insurance program.

Nature of Leave

  • FMLA: Provides up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave for various reasons such as personal serious health conditions, care for a new child, a seriously ill family member, or certain military family needs.
  • Maryland Law (PFML under TTCA): Expands the FMLA by offering up to 12 weeks of paid leave, with an additional 12 weeks possible in certain cases, such as when an employee is eligible for both medical leave due to their own serious health condition and bonding leave in the same application year, potentially allowing up to 24 weeks of leave in a year.

Eligibility and Coverage

  • FMLA: Applicable to public/private schools, public agencies, and private-sector employers with 50 or more employees in a 75-mile radius. Eligibility requires 12 months of employment and a minimum of 1,250 hours worked in the preceding 12 months.
  • Maryland Law (PFML under TTCA): Lowers the eligibility threshold significantly. Full- and part-time employees are eligible if they worked at least 680 hours in the 12 months immediately before the leave starts. This includes self-employed individuals who opt into the program.

Job Protection and Health Insurance

  • FMLA and Maryland Law: Both provide job protection during leave. Under FMLA, health insurance maintenance is required during the leave. Maryland’s PFML also ensures job protection, with potential expansion of employee job protections, including a provision that employees may be terminated only “for cause” while on leave.

Discrimination and Retaliation Protections

  • Federal and Maryland Law: Both protect employees from discrimination or retaliation for taking leave under FMLA.

Coordination with Other Benefits

  • Maryland Law: PFML will be funded through contributions to the FMLI Fund from employees, employers with 15 or more employees, and self-employed individuals who opt in. This includes a new system for paid family and medical leave starting in 2026, providing wage replacement while a worker takes time away.

Interaction Between Federal and State Laws

  • Maryland Law: PFML runs concurrently with relevant leave taken under the federal FMLA, integrating and expanding upon the federal guidelines.

Resources about Maryland’s State Law

Here are other important Maryland related articles:

FMLA per State

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FAQ about Family and Medical Leave in Maryland

1. What qualifies as a serious health condition under FMLA?

Conditions requiring an overnight hospital stay, incapacitation for more than three days with ongoing treatment, chronic conditions with periodic treatment, and pregnancy-related issues​​.

2. Who is eligible for paid leave benefits under Maryland’s TTCA?

Employees who have worked at least 680 hours over the past 12 months and self-employed individuals who opt into the program​​.

3. What are the types of leave covered under the TTCA?

Leave for the care of a newborn or newly placed child, care for a family member with a serious health condition, the employee’s own serious health condition, care for a service member, or due to a family member’s military deployment​​.

4. Can my employer ask me to switch positions during FMLA leave?

Yes, if the leave is foreseeable and the new position is equivalent in pay and benefits and better suited for intermittent leave​​.

5. Will I have to use my vacation time during FMLA leave?

Employers can require or employees may elect to use accrued paid leave (like vacation or personal leave) during FMLA leave​​.

6. Is FMLA leave paid?

No, FMLA requires only unpaid leave. Employers aren’t required to pay if they provide less than 12 weeks of paid leave​​.

7. What notice must I give my employer for FMLA leave?

Provide 30-days advance notice for foreseeable leave, or as soon as practicable for unforeseen leave​​.

8. What are the rules if both spouses work for the same employer?

The employer may limit the spouses to a combined total of 12 weeks of leave for childbirth, adoption, or to care for a sick parent.

9. What are employer requirements under Maryland’s Parental Leave Act (MPLA)?

Employers with 15-49 employees must provide 6 weeks of unpaid parental leave for the birth, adoption, or foster placement of a child​​.

10. What is required for notice under the MPLA?

Written notice of intent to take parental leave is generally required 30 days before the leave starts, with exceptions for unexpected events​​.

11. Are existing paid leave policies affected by TTCA?

Employees must exhaust all employer-provided leave not required by law before receiving TTCA benefits. Employers can’t diminish employees’ rights under TTCA through their policies​​.

HR Expert | Talent Management Enthusiast. You've found the right place! I'm Jose Sanchez, your expert HR guide with extensive experience in HR insight and talent management. I write about how businesses can thrive by nurturing and leveraging their talent. When I'm not immersed in HR, I love to explore the fascinating worlds of physics and psychology.

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