How long are paternity and maternity leave in Maryland, and how much money do you get while absent from work?

Being a new parent should be a joyous time. However, financial considerations can sometimes throw a wet blanket on the experience. No family wants to take an unpaid work absence only to lose a job and health insurance later on – just as they have an extra mouth to feed.

The state does not offer full-blown paid time off to workers in private industry. Plus, new mothers and fathers could have twelve weeks, or six weeks of legal job protections – or none at all.

Your answer hinges on eligibility under several laws and programs.

MD Paid Family Leave Benefits

Maryland law does not require paid family leave benefits as a handful of other states do. New parents often need to look elsewhere for monetary support while they bond with their newborn or adopted baby – unless they work for a state government agency.

Personal Loan

Request a personal loan if you need extra cash to pay your regular bills because you need to take unpaid maternity leave. You will treasure the time spent bonding with your newborn. If approved, a lender licensed in Maryland will deposit funds directly into your checking account.

Make sure that you qualify for legal job protections (see below) before borrowing money, as you will need a source of income to repay the lender in monthly installments.

Short-Term Disability

Short-term disability is the primary way that mothers can enjoy paid maternity leave benefits. Maryland does not have a state-mandated program. Although, women can purchase a policy from a private insurance company. However, you must start coverage before conception to qualify.

Short-term disability can make claim payments for these common scenarios.

  • Pregnancy disability before birth due to medical complications
  • Recovery from labor and delivery
    • 6-weeks: vaginal birth
    • 8-weeks: C-section surgery
  • Postpartum medical disorders that delay mom’s return to work

Fathers cannot use short-term disability for paternity leave because dads remain physically able to perform the duties of their primary occupation.

Unemployment

Collecting unemployment compensation after your maternity leave concludes may be difficult for many women. Therefore, you may need to hire an attorney licensed in Maryland to argue your case as the legal language is not clear and relies on case laws from other states.

The MD Department of Labor makes these statements on its website.[1]

  • “To establish good cause, the claimant must show that the cause for leaving is directly attributable to, arising from or connected with the conditions of the employment or the actions of the employer.”
  • An employee’s health problem is considered to be connected with the work only if it results from an on-the-job injury.
  • “Leaving work on account of pregnancy is treated the same way as leaving work for other health problems.”

Maryland has several laws that nibble at the edges of paid family leave for workers in private industry. On the other hand, state government employees enjoy far better wage replacement benefits than the taxpayers who support them.  

Care Takers

The MD Flexible Leave Act permits some individuals to take a work absence with pay to act as a caretaker for a sick family member (child, spouse, or parent).[2]

  • Covered employers have 15 or more employees
  • Wage support can include earned time off
    • Sick days
    • Vacation
    • Compensatory time

For example, new fathers can tap into this rule when taking paternity leave to care for his ill wife suffering from pregnancy complications before birth, or postpartum disorders, or to monitor a premature infant. Whereas new mothers would qualify only to watch over her newborn with an illness.

Adoption

The MD Adoption Leave Act requires employers to provide the same income support benefits offered to employees birthing a child. However, this rule only helps adoptive moms and dads who work for employers that offer paid work absences – which is extremely rare.[2]

Sick Days

The MD Healthy Working Families Act requires employers to provide sick days to parents taking maternity or paternity leave.[3]  However, the size of your employer dictates whether the sick and safe time off is paid or unpaid.

  • Small businesses with less the 15 employees: no wage benefits
  • Employers with 15 or more employees: income support
    • Earn 1 hour for every 30 worked
    • Maximum 40 hours accrued annually
    • Limit of 64 hours at any time

Montgomery County

Montgomery County augments the statewide sick and safe law.[4] More people qualify for more prolonged work absences.

  • Small businesses with less the five employees
    • 32 hours of wage replacement
    • 24 hours of unpaid work absence
  • Employers with five or more employees: wage benefits
    • Earn 1 hour for every 30 worked
    • Maximum 56 hours accrued annually
    • Limit of 80 hours in a year

State Government

MD state government employees enjoy up to sixty days of paid parental leave to care for a child under the age of six (birth or adoption). However, this wage support benefit applies only to the primary caregiver.

State workers must use up any earned annual or personal leave before taking advantage of the exclusive rights set aside for new mothers and fathers.[5]

MD Job & Insurance Protections

Two laws provide legal job and health insurance safeguards for Maryland parents during paternity and maternity leave. The statutes combine to determine how long mom and dad can take off from work without any repercussions.

The two regulations have different eligibility criteria, which means that the length of legal work absences could last zero, six, or twelve weeks.

FMLA Eligibility

The federal Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provides employment and health insurance security for some new dads and moms in Maryland – but not all.

FMLA affords up to 12 weeks of unpaid time off to parents who meet the qualifying criteria (eligible employees who work for covered employers). In general, about 50% of the population enjoys these benefits.

  1. Take job-protected absence without interference, restraint, or retaliation
  2. Have group health insurance maintained under the same terms and conditions
  3. Restored to the same or an equivalent position after the 12 weeks

Covered Employers

First, you must work for an employer subject to FMLA rules.

  • Private-sector employer, with 50 or more employees in 20 or more workweeks
  • Public agency regardless of the number of people it employs
  • Public or private elementary or secondary school, regardless of the number of people it employs

Eligible Employees

Second, you need to meet the FMLA criteria as a qualified worker.

  • Worked for the employer for at least 12 months
  • Logged at least 1,250 hours of service in the last 12 months
  • Works at a location where the employer has at least 50 employees within a 75-mile radius

Parental Leave Act

The Maryland Parental Leave Act (MDPLA) extends FMLA-type job and health insurance protections to a distinct group of people – although the unpaid time off is shorter (6 weeks), and fewer reasons qualify.[2]

  MDPLA FMLA
Employer 15-49 EE’s 50+ EE’s
Worker Same Same
Length 6 Weeks 12 Weeks
 Reasons Birth
Adoption
Foster Care
Birth
Adoption
Foster Care
Employee disability
Care of sick family member

The MDPLA targets new mothers and fathers working for small businesses who otherwise would not qualify under FMLA. However, people working at entities with fewer than fifteen employees have no legal rights and must rely on company policy alone.

[1] MD Department of Labor Unemployment Decisions

[2] MD Department of Labor Policies

[3] MD Sick & Safe Notice – DOL

[4] Montgomery County Government

[5] MD Department of Budget & Management