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Maryland’s Flexible Leave Act Now Covers Bereavement Leave

Effective October 1, 2021, the Flexible Leave Act (MFLA) is amended to provide eligible employees with paid bereavement leave to use for the death of a member of the employee’s immediate family. This bill does not grant a new bank of leave, but it amends the MFLA to require employers to permit the use of any existing accrued paid leave for bereavement purposes.

The MFLA has required that Maryland private sector employers with at least 15 employees (for each working a day in each of 20 or more calendar weeks in the current or preceding year) who provide paid leave to their employees allow an employee to use earned paid leave to care for immediate family members (children, spouse and parents) with an illness. The law allows employees to use paid leave to care for an immediate family member under the same conditions and rules that would apply for an employee’s own illness.

The MFLA, which had become less significant with the implementation of the Maryland Healthy Working Families Act (mandatory paid sick leave), enables employees to use any earned paid leave, such as vacation/PTO, sick or personal leave to care for an injured or ill spouse, parent or child under the age of 18 or incapable of self-care because of a disability. This amendment now permits employees to use this accrued paid leave for bereavement. To the extent that an employee has more than one form of paid leave available, the employee has the right to choose the type and amount of accrued, unused leave to be used.

Employers are prohibited from discriminating and retaliating against employees who exercise rights under the MFLA or file a complaint, testify against or assist in an action against an employer for a violation of the act.

Employers should review their paid leave policies and procedures and ensure that updates are made for compliance.

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