Changes To The Contract
As already noted, employment in Maryland is generally “at will” meaning the employer and employee can end the employment relationship at any time for any or no reason and with or without prior notice. Most “at-will” employees do not have employment contracts and, as such, an employer can unilaterally change the terms and conditions of employment. If there is an employment agreement or a collective bargaining agreement, the terms of those agreements will control and changes to the terms of those agreements may only be made with the consent of both/all parties.
Change In Ownership Of The Business
Federal law requires that employers with 100 or more employees give employees 60 days prior notice (or 60 days’ pay) in the event of plant closings or mass layoffs that affect specific numbers of employees. Maryland’s Economic Stabilization Act contains very similar requirements, but applies to employers with 50 or more employees. Collective bargaining agreements or the presence of a union also can provide that the employer comply with other requirements when there is a change in the ownership of a business. Employment agreements, particularly those relating to company executives, may contain provisions, including potential severance pay, when a change in ownership occurs.
Social Security Contributions
Pursuant to federal law, there are mandatory social security contributions that must be made by both the employer and the employee.
Accidents At Work
Federal law requires employers to keep logs of all accidents at work. Maryland law requires employers to maintain insurance to provide compensation to employees who suffer workplace injuries to cover medical care, rehabilitation services and partial wage loss.
Discipline And Grievance
Maryland has no specific rules governing discipline and/or grievance procedures. If there is an applicable employment agreement or collective bargaining agreement, such agreements may provide guidelines and/or limitations on discipline and/or grievance procedures. Although not required, many employers provide non-contractual guidelines for the handling of disciplinary procedures in their employee handbooks.
Federal and state laws recognize harassment as an offense where it relates to certain discriminatory factors. Employees are protected from discrimination and harassment on the basis of their sex, age, national origin, race, color, religion, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, genetic information, protective hairstyles, marital status, an employee’s medical information and participation in group medical coverage, and veteran status. The concept of equal pay is recognized by federal and state legislation. Local ordinances prohibit discrimination based on a variety of other protected characteristics as well. The concept of equal pay is recognized by federal and state law.
Compulsory Training Obligations
There are no required state training obligations. Employers are still advised to train managers and employees on harassment (including but not limited to sexual harassment), discrimination and retaliation prevention, including how to raise an internal complaint of any such concerns. Depending on the industry, there may be required training.
State law prohibits deducting employee debts from employee earnings unless there is a specific written authorization by the employee for such a deduction. This should take the form of a separate and distinct statement, signed by the employee, concerning only the deduction and nothing more. In addition, federal and state law require the payment of at least minimum wage for all hours worked during all pay periods and offsets for employee debts may not result in a payment of less than minimum wage.
Payments For Maternity And Disability Leave
There are no mandated payments for disability leave but if an employer provides paid disability leave it must treat maternity leave the same as disability leave and pay pregnant employees while on maternity leave to the extent they are unable to work.
There are compulsory insurance requirements for employers, including workers’ compensation and unemployment insurance.
Absence For Military Or Public Service Duties
Both federal and Maryland law provide for leaves of absence for employees to provide military services for active duty in the U.S. armed forces and its reserve units, including the National Guard, and Maryland state forces. Maryland also provides leave for employees to spend with family members leaving for or returning from active overseas military duty. Employers generally are required to keep an employee’s job open/available while on military leave and reinstate employees upon their return from military service, which includes restoring their job position and benefits that they would have had if not for their military duty and leave. Employers are not required to pay employees while they are on military leave.
Maryland employees are permitted to take two (2) hours of paid leave to vote, so long as the employee does not have two (2) hours of continuous off-duty time while the polls are open. Employees may be required to show their employer proof that they voted.
Under federal and state law, employers cannot terminate or retaliate against an employee for missing work time as a result of going to court for jury service. Maryland employers also cannot require an employee to use leave (annual, sick or vacation) for jury service.
Works Councils or Trade Unions
Under federal law, employees can force an employer in certain cases to recognize a union by petitioning for and winning an election by majority vote. Individuals who are involved in activities to promote a union are protected from adverse employment actions, such as dismissal, because of their union-promotion activities.
Employees’ Right To Strike
Under federal law, groups of employees may strike, even if there is not a collective bargaining agreement or formal union at the site of employment, subject to limits for public service employees.
Employees On Strike
Employers may not typically terminate employees on strike unless the employees engage in serious misconduct while on strike or the strike was unlawful and unprotected. However, if employees are on an economic strike, they may be permanently replaced by the employer and may be denied reinstatement if there are no open positions at the end of the strike and until appropriate positions become available.
Employers’ Responsibility For Actions Of Their Employees
Employers are responsible under common law agency principles for actions of their employees that occur within the scope of their employment. Employers generally are not responsible for employees’ actions outside the scope of their employment. Maryland employers may be liable for harassment by supervisory/management employees.