2017 Employment Law Legislative Update

The 437th session of the General Assembly of Maryland ended April 10, 2017.  The following is a recap of just some of the employment related bills during this session.  The primary focus during this session in the labor and employment arena was paid sick and safe leave.  While most of the labor and employment bills proposed this session did not pass, a majority of them will be back again next session. 

HB 01, Healthy Working Families Act passed both the House and Senate but, on May 25, 2017, Governor Hogan vetoed this mandatory paid leave bill. This bill would have required employers with as few as 15 employees to provide paid time off for those who work an average of 12 hours per week. 

BILLS NOT PASSED BUT WILL RETURN

HB 665 / SB 607 – Exemptions from Overtime Pay. This bill would have essentially put into place the DOL’s EAP regulations, changing increasing the minimum salary for an exempt employee to $47,476 or $913/week. This bill received an unfavorable report in the House. 

HB 317 – Wages & Benefits - Pre-Emption of Local Authority. This bill would have limited the authority of the Commissioner of Labor and Industry to enforce a local minimum wage law; prohibiting a county or municipality from enacting a law that regulates wages or benefits for employees other than employees of the county or municipality; and prohibiting a law enacted by a county or municipality that regulates wages or benefits for employees other than employees of the county or municipality from being enforced if the specified provision was enacted on or after January 1, 2017. This bill was met with unfavorable reports in both the House and Senate.

HB 398 / SB 404 – Equal Pay - Job Announcement and Salary History Information Disclosures.  This bill would have required employers with 15 or more employees to include specified information in a job announcement to recruit an employee or independent contractor to fill a position within the employer's organization; prohibiting specified employers from paying less than the minimum rate of pay included in a specified job announcement to a specified employee; prohibiting specified employers from seeking salary history information for an employee by specified methods; etc. This bill received a favorable report in the House but died in the Senate.

HB 440/ SB 555 – Employers of Ex-Offenders - Liability for Negligent Hiring or Inadequate Supervision – Immunity. This bill would have established that specified employers are not liable for negligently hiring or failing to adequately supervise an employee based on evidence that the employee has received probation before judgment for an offense or has been convicted of an offense under specified circumstances. This bill received an unfavorable report in both House and Senate.  

HB 506 / SB 468 – Non-compete and Conflict of Interest Clauses. This bill provided that specified non-compete and conflict of interest provisions that restrict the ability of an employee to enter into employment with a new employer or to become self-employed in the same or similar business or trade are null and void as being against the public policy of the State. This bill passed the House but no hearing.  It also received an unfavorable report in the Senate.

HB 531 – Labor Organizations - Right to Work. This bill prohibited an employer from requiring, as a condition of employment or continued employment, an employee or a prospective employee to join or remain a member of a labor organization, pay charges to a labor organization, or pay a specified amount to a third party under specified circumstances; prohibiting an employer from threatening an employee or a prospective employee with specified action; providing that a specified violation of law is a misdemeanor and is subject to specified penalties; applying the Act prospectively; etc. This bill received an unfavorable report from the House.

HB 1614 & 1615 / SB 1116 – Fair Scheduling, Wages & Benefits Act.  This bill would have required a specified employer to provide specified employees with specified estimates and work schedules within specified time periods and notify employees of specified changes to specified schedules; authorizing an employer to make specified changes to a scheduled shift within a specified period of time; requiring an employer, except under specified circumstances, to pay specified predictability pay under specified circumstances; providing that the predictability pay is in addition to specified other pay; etc. This bill never moved out of committee.

Cheryl Brown is an attorney with the Business and Transactional practice group at Davis, Agnor, Rapaport & Skalny, LLC.  For questions regarding the implementation of these new laws, or your own labor and employment law matters, please do not hesitate to contact Cheryl.