[USA Maryland] New employment laws taking effect on October 1st

In Maryland, hundreds of new laws and amendments come into effect from October 1st including notable changes to employment law, Maryland Reporter summarised the new laws and their impact.

The laws span a variety of issues from taxing online sales, to increasing the minimum age to buy cigarettes and vapes and banning bump stocks for firearms. Some of the changes amended existing laws, others were significant changes. The noteworthy changes to employment law are here along with links to their legislative history (links and summaries via Maryland Reporter):

Compensation for fire and rescue employees (HB604): Fire and rescue employees who serve a minimum of 10 years within Maryland, and who fall victim to occupational diseases, will be covered under workers’ compensation.

This will allow more employees to qualify for the benefits as workers previously had to serve a minimum of 10 years in one department to receive the benefit. State and local expenditures may increase in 2020 as a result of this new eligibility.

Rights for university employee (HB822): The University System of Maryland may not fire exempt employees - employees who are not eligible for overtime pay - without cause.

Under prior law, employees were hired on an at-will basis and their employment could be terminated with or without cause. According to Legislative Services’ figures, the University System of Maryland had 11,600 exempt employees as of last autumn.

Criminal history - employment (HB22): This bill prohibits executive agencies like the Health Department from turning down applications for occupational licenses or certificates on the sole basis of an applicant’s criminal history if it has been at least seven years since the conviction and no crime beyond a minor traffic violation has occurred since. The bill does not apply to convictions for violent crimes.

Organ donation - unpaid leave and insurance (SB742): All employees will be eligible for unpaid organ donation leave for 12 weeks in any year and up to 30 business days for bone marrow transplants. The new law also prohibits insurance agencies from refusing to renew insurance policies to a donor based solely on their donation. This provision will not be in effect until January 2020.

Workplace harassment (HB679): Independent contractors and the staff of elected officials will become eligible to file employment discrimination complaints. The bill broadens the definitions of “employer” and “employee” in employment discrimination. The expected annual cost will be at least $54,000.