Sick and Safe Leave
The County implemented Personnel Procedure (PP) 265 – Sick and Safe Leave on November 29, 2018, in response to the Maryland Healthy Working Families Act of 2018. The following will provide guidance for navigating this new procedure and address some of the typical questions.
Note: Permanent and probationary, part-time and full-time classified service employees who are eligible for any of the leave pursuant to Personnel Law Division 17- Leave, and Administrative Procedure 284 – Administration of Employee Leave may use the accrued or earned leave categories for the purposes outlined in Section II.B. of PP 265. These purposes include, but are not limited to, expanded “Safe Leave" uses described in Section II.B.5. However, classified service employees will not accrue any additional leave hours.
Roles and Responsibilities
- Employee – All eligible employees should provide sufficient notice of the need to use Sick and Safe Leave pursuant to PP 265. When requested, the employee should provide written verification for the use of Sick and Safe Leave.
- Supervisor – Notify the departmental human resources staff of the request to validate eligibility to use Sick and Safe Leave, and code timesheets accordingly. All requests must remain confidential.
- Human Resources Liaison – Validate eligibility to use Sick and Safe Leave pursuant to PP 265 by: verifying the reason; checking 106-day threshold; available balances; etc.
- Payroll Coordinator – Review the biweekly leave report and validate that employees’ timecards properly reflect the use of Sick and Safe Leave.
- Appointing Authority – ensure that all managers/supervisors and employees within the department/agency are aware of the Sick and Safe Leave policy/procedure, and comply with the policies and procedures associated with the leave usage.
Methods and Procedures
Proper notification of the leave benefit and documentation of use is essential. The following steps should be taken to ensure employee awareness and compliance of PP 265.
- Human Resources Liaisons
- Ensure that all current employees are advised of the Sick and Safe Leave procedure by sending them communication via email, or posting announcements in a common area where employees without computer access can see it. The procedure is found on the intranet site for The Office of Human Resources Management > Employee and Labor Relations Division > Policies and Procedures.
- Use the 2019 version of the Personal Services Agreement (PSA) for Limited-Term-Grant-Funded (LTGF) employees, which includes a section for the Sick and Safe Leave benefit.
- Provide welcome packets for all eligible temporary status employees (LTGF, PSA Contractors, 1000 Hour, and other temporary employees whose employment term extends beyond 106 calendar days), which explains their eligibility to use Sick and Safe Leave.
- Verify that the employee meets the eligibility requirements for the benefit by researching the following:
- Employee must regularly be scheduled to work twelve (12) hours or more per week.
- Employee has met the one hundred and six (106) day threshold before the date of the leave requests.
- The reason for the requests aligns with PP 265 under II.B.
Notify the Payroll Coordinator of approval status for requested Sick and Safe Leave.
- Request the use of Sick and Safe Leave pursuant to PP 265 under III.A. and II.B. by completing the following steps:
- Check available balance under the Sick Leave code in the electronic timesheet system.
- Enter leave request(s) in the electronic timesheet system and verify approval prior to taking the time off.
- If the request was due to unforeseen circumstances and not approved in advance, provide proper notification to the supervisor and enter the Sick Leave code directly on the electronic timesheet if approved.
- Notify the Human Resources Liaison when an employee requests to use Sick and Safe Leave and code the timesheet accordingly.
- Payroll Coordinators
- Ensure they have received confirmation from the Human Resources Liaison that the employee meets the eligibility requirements.
- Check the accrual balance and ensure the employee’s use does not exceed the forty (40) hours maximum for the contract year.
- Code the employee’s timecard using the Sick Leave code, if not entered in advance by the Supervisor.
- Appointing Authorities
- Ensure managers/supervisors are aware of their role/responsibility as it relates to Sick and Safe Leave requests, and consult with OHRM for guidance when there is reasonable cause to question an employee’s request.
Verification for Use
An employer may require verification for use of earned Sick and Safe Leave if the employee: (1) used Sick and Safe Leave for more than two consecutive scheduled shifts; or (2) the employee used the leave during the period between the first 107 and 120 calendar days of employment and the employee and employer agreed to the verification at the time of hire. The documentation must be provided directly to the human resources staff in the agency/department. Examples of acceptable documentation include:
- Certification of treatment of illness (physical or mental) from a licensed physician (details about the treatment are not required).
- Police report identifying the employee or family member was a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking.
- Court order protecting or separating the employee or family member from the alleged perpetrator.
- Evidence from court demonstrating the employee or family member was scheduled to appear in court.
- Documentation from an attorney, victim advocate, member of the clergy or a medical professional indicating that the employee or family member is a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking.
The agency payroll coordinator (or assigned staff) receives a biweekly leave report that lists the available balances for all leave categories, including Sick and Safe leave (SSL). SSL shows in the two time systems as follows:
- Kronos User – Available balance will show as Sick Leave under the “Accrual” tab in Kronos.
- Employee, Supervisor, Payroll Coordinator or other assigned staff will click on the “Show or Hide More Content” button.
- Select "Accruals" and see Sick Leave balance under the “Accrual Available Balance” column.
- Electronic Time Sheet (ETS) User – Sick Leave usage will show as a negative value under the “Benefits” tab for the two available ETS pay periods (Previous and/or Current period). If there is no usage, then the Sick Leave field will show a balance of zero (0.00). The agency must view the biweekly leave report or contact payroll to confirm available Sick Leave balance.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
- How soon can a new employee use their Sick and Safe Leave?
Leave may not be utilized for the first 106 days of the contract term or start date of employment.
- What happens if an employee uses earned leave between the first 107 and 120 calendar days of employment, the employer requests verification, and the employee fails to provide the requested documentation?
The law provides that an employer may require an employee to provide verification if the employee wants to use leave between the first 107 and 120 days that the employee was employed by the employer if the employee agreed at the time of hire to provide the verification under mutually agreeable terms. The law further provides that if these requirements are met and an employee refuses to provide verification, the employer may deny a subsequent request to use leave “for the same reason.”
- Are part-time employees eligible for Sick and Safe Leave?
Yes. Part-time employees count toward the 15 employee threshold for determining whether employees are entitled to paid or unpaid Sick and Safe Leave. As to accrual, an employer is not required to provide Sick and Safe Leave for employees who regularly work less than 12 hours per week. Additionally, an employer is not required to provide Sick and Safe Leave during (1) a 2 week pay period in which the employee worked fewer than 24 total hours; (2) a 1 week pay period if the employee worked fewer than a combined total of 24 hours in the current and immediately preceding pay period; or (3) a pay period in which the employee is paid twice per month and worked fewer than 26 hours in the pay period.
Does the unused balance of Sick and Safe Leave carryover from year to year?
No, the unused SSL balance does not carryover each year.
Can a temporary status employee receive donations or donate their Sick and Safe Leave?
No. Even when a temporary status employee may be protected under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), they are not eligible to receive leave donations for any reason.
What happens when a temporary status employee has exhausted the 40 hours and still requires time off for Sick and Safe Leave?
That employee may be approved to take time off to address their matters; however, that time off will be unpaid. If the employee is a classified service employee eligible for leave pursuant to the County’s leave policy/procedure, that employee may use any accrued or earned leave category for the purposes outlined in PP 265.