Maryland Department of Labor Advances State Paid Family and Medical Leave Program


The Maryland Department of Labor has taken the initial stride towards establishing a state plan that provides partial paid family and medical leave for Maryland workers, aiming to assist those caring for ailing family members, tending to newborns, or spending quality time with a family member prior to military deployment.

On September 29, the department greenlit the initial contribution rate for the Family and Medical Leave Insurance (FAMLI) state plan. This rate will stand at 0.90% of covered wages, evenly divided (0.45% each) between employers and employees at businesses with 15 or more workers.

Assistant Secretary of Labor for Family and Medical Leave, Elliot Schreur, emphasized, "By setting the combined contribution rate at less than one percent of wages, and less than half a percent for workers and employers each, the Department is doing its part to make sure paid leave is affordable and sustainable for Maryland workers and employers in the long term."

The Department of Labor plans to establish the necessary rules and regulations to implement the program in early 2024, according to information provided on the department's website.

Participation in the state FAMLI plan is voluntary for employers. However, those who choose not to participate must offer a private leave plan from an approved insurer that provides an equivalent or superior level of leave coverage.

In the fall of 2024, employers will need to make a decision between the state's paid family and medical leave plan or seek approval for a private plan.

Employers opting for the state plan will begin contributions on October 1, 2024, to fund benefits scheduled to commence in 2026.

Starting in 2026, Maryland employees and self-employed individuals covered by the state plan will be eligible for job protection and can receive up to $1,000 per week for a maximum of 12 weeks to address family and medical needs.

This program was born from legislation passed in 2022 and subsequently amended in 2023 to extend the implementation timeline.

Kali Schumitz, Vice President for External Relations for the Maryland Center on Economic Policy, highlighted the significance of the FAMLI program as a public insurance fund supported by payroll deductions. She stated, "It makes it much more affordable for everyone, because it’s a very minimal amount, everyone is contributing and it’s there when you need it."

The Maryland Center on Economic Policy is a member of the steering committee for the Time to Care Coalition, a group advocating for paid family and medical leave.

Schumitz emphasized the current disparities in access to paid time off and underlined the importance of the program in ensuring that nearly every worker in Maryland has the opportunity to take up to 12 weeks of partially paid leave for significant life events. She stated, "It’s an incremental step, but we’re very excited to see things moving along."