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The Maryland legislature adjourned in April after enacting several employment-related laws, summarized below.
- Minimum Wage (HB166/SB280) – Beginning January 1, 2020, state minimum wage for all employers will increase to $11, with scheduled increases up to $15 in 2025 for employers with 15 or more employees, and $14.60 for employers with 14 or fewer employees. Additionally, as of June 1, 2019, the amusement or recreational establishment overtime exemption will no longer be permitted.
- Noncompete Agreements (HB38/SB328) – On October 1, 2019, employers are prohibited from entering into noncompete agreements with low-wage workers who earn $15 per hour or $31,200 per year or less. The restriction applies even if the agreement is entered into in another state. The new restriction does not hinder an employer’s ability to protect its proprietary client-related information.
- Harassment and Discrimination Protections (HB679/SB872) – Beginning October 1, 2019, independent contractors may now file claims for discrimination. Additionally, Maryland now defines and expressly prohibits harassment “if the negligence of the employer led to the harassment or continuation of harassment.” Although employees must file a discrimination charge within six months of occurrence, employees will now have two years in which to file a harassment charge. Similarly, the statute of limitations for bringing a harassment lawsuit is extended from two to three years. Finally, the new harassment laws apply to all employers, while discrimination protections are still limited to employers with 15 or more employees.
- Organ Donation Leave (HB1284/SB705) – Beginning October 1, 2019, employers with 15 or more employees must provide employees with up to 60 business days of unpaid leave to be an organ donor, and 30 business days to be a bone marrow donor. This leave does not run concurrently with the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). There are also eligibility, job reinstatement, and benefits protections.
- Ban-the-Box Protections (HB994/SB839) – As of January 1, 2020, employers with 15 or more employees, including recruiters on their behalf, will be prohibited from inquiring about an applicant’s criminal record prior to the first in-person interview. There are exceptions when otherwise required by federal or state law, and for employers who provide programs, services, or direct care to minors or to vulnerable adults.
- Equal Pay Penalties (HB790) – Starting October 1, 2019, penalties for violating the Equal Pay for Equal Work law, two or more times within a 3-year period, will be increased to 10% of the damages owed by the employer.
- Gender Diversity in the Boardroom (HB1116/SB911) – As of October 1, 2019, tax-exempt domestic nonstock corporations with an operating budget of over $5 million, and domestic stock corporations with sales exceeding $5 million will be required, will be required to report to the state the total number of Board of Directors members and the total number of whom are female. Although there are no gender composition requirements, the legislature’s hope is that required reporting will increase female representation in leadership positions.
- Display updated minimum wage posters.
- Prepare for scheduled wage increases and overtime exemption changes, if applicable.
- Have noncompete agreements reviewed by legal counsel for compliance.
- Have applicable policies updated.
- Remove criminal history inquiries from employment applications and train hiring managers accordingly.
- Prepare to report Board of Directors composition to the state.
- Subscribers can call our HR On-Call Hotline at (888) 378-2456 for further assistance.
Disclaimer: This document is designed to provide general information and guidance concerning employment-related issues. It is presented with the understanding that ManagEase is not engaged in rendering any legal opinions. If a legal opinion is needed, please contact the services of your own legal adviser.
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