In April 2022, the Maryland General Assembly passed the Time To Care Act (TTCA) with a Paid Family and Medical Leave Insurance (FAMLI) program. FAMLI will enable employees to take time away from work to care for themselves or a family member, and receive partial wage replacement while they’re on leave.
Maryland is the 11th state to pass such a law. The Act was originally scheduled to go into effect in 2023 but modifications made during the most recent legislative session delayed the program’s launch. Employee contributions to the program are now scheduled to begin in October 2024, and benefits are slated to start on January 1, 2026.
FAMLI will provide up to $1,000 a week for up to 12 weeks – for employees who take time off to care for themselves or family members. FAMLI creates protection that they will be able to return to their jobs after their leave. The Act also benefits employers by enhancing employee retention, offering attractive employee benefits for recruitment, and creating cost predictability while an employee is away.
Every Maryland company with one or more employees will be required to provide family and medical leave insurance beginning January 1, 2026.
Here are some basics of the new FAMLI program:
Covered Employees: An eligible employee is defined as someone who has worked at least 680 hours over the 12-month period immediately preceding leave. This includes self-employed individuals.
Coverage Period: Covered employees may take up to 12 weeks of leave in a rolling 12-month period, with an additional 12 weeks possible if there is a serious health condition or an employee needs to bond with a new child. The leave may be taken intermittently in minimum increments of four hours.
Reasons for Leave: Leave may be taken for:
- Parental leave: birth, adoption, or foster or kinship care during the first year and preparations for adoption, foster, or kinship placement
- Family caregiving: care for a family member with a serious health condition (as defined by the statute)
- Service member caregiving: care for next of kin who is a service member with a serious health condition resulting from military service
- Medical: a serious health condition causing inability to perform the functions of their position
- Military qualifying exigency: reasons related to a family member’s military service, as defined by the statute
Insurance Providers: Employers may either enroll in the plan administered by the Maryland Department of Labor’s FAMLI Division or seek approval for a commercial or self-administered plan (insured, self-insured or a combination) with benefits equal to or greater than those provided by the state plan.
Contributions: In September, 2023, the Maryland Department of Labor announced the initial contribution rate for the state plan. The rate will be 0.90% of covered wages, and will be equally divided between employees and employers with 15 or more workers. Employers with fewer than 15 employees need not contribute.
The Maryland Department of Labor website has details about the FAMLI; find it at https://www.dllr.state.md.us/famli/
It’s not too early to start preparing for this new requirement. Beginning to understand it now will help in future planning and budgeting, and will give time to explore options for providing family and medical leave insurance. The new plan may also impact existing policies for leave; considering the implications now can save conflicts later.
As you plan for how you will implement Family and Medical Leave Insurance, the professionals at Dembo Jones are prepared to participate in your considerations. We have extensive experience helping companies and non-for-profit organizations develop appropriate benefits programs.