Compliance Watch:
What are my rights as an hourly employee in Maryland?

April 9th 2024

As an hourly employee in Maryland, understanding your rights goes beyond the basic legal requirements; it empowers you and builds confidence in your career trajectory.

Clocking in and out each day, your compensation for your hard work significantly impacts your position in the workforce. You may find yourself contemplating your rights as an employee and how to assert them effectively. However, it’s important to recognize that the intricacies of employment arrangements can vary significantly from state to state in the United States.

This article is tailored specifically for hourly employees in Maryland, aiming not only to provide you with essential information to protect your rights but also to help you proactively structure your work experience in a manner that aligns with Maryland’s unique labor laws and regulations.

This Article Covers

Defining an Hourly Employee in Maryland
Wage and Hour Regulations in Maryland
Rest Laws in Maryland
Deductions, Benefits, and Protections in Maryland
Termination of Employment in Maryland

Defining an Hourly Employee in Maryland

What is Hourly Employment in Maryland?

In Maryland, just as in many states across the United States, hourly employees form a crucial part of the workforce. These dedicated individuals receive compensation based on the number of hours they dedicate to their jobs within a given workweek. Unlike their salaried counterparts, who receive a fixed pay regardless of their weekly hours, hourly wage employees in Maryland witness their earnings directly linked to the time they invest in their employment.

  • Hourly Employment Agreements: Hourly wage employees in Maryland typically engage in distinct employment agreements with their employers. These agreements often involve the use of tools like time cards or timesheets to meticulously record the hours worked. The responsibility of determining the number of hours these employees contribute each week primarily lies with the employer, and accurate record-keeping is essential for both parties.
  • Minimum Wage Regulations in Maryland: The passage of the Fair Wage Act of 2023 brought significant changes to Maryland’s minimum wage landscape. With the new law in effect, employers of all sizes are required to pay a minimum wage of $15 per hour from Jan. 1, 2024. Tipped employees receive a different rate, which is set at $3.63.  potentially impact these rates.
  • Unique Provisions: Maryland, like many states, has its unique provisions regarding wage regulations. While the state follows federal minimum wage rates by reference, it’s essential to stay informed about any changes in both federal and state laws that may impact wage rates and labour regulations.

What are the Key Differences Between Salaried and Hourly Employees in Maryland?

Here’s a comparison table highlighting the key differences between hourly and salaried employees in Maryland:

Key Differences Hourly Employees Salaried Employees
Compensation Paid based on the number of hours worked. Paid a fixed salary regardless of the number of hours worked.
Minimum Wage Entitled to receive at least the state and federal minimum wage for each hour worked Exempt from minimum wage requirements if certain criteria are met.
Overtime Pay Eligible for overtime pay for hours worked beyond 40 hours in a workweek. Typically exempt from overtime pay if they meet the exemption criteria.
Work Schedule Compensation is directly proportional to the actual hours worked. Compensation remains the same regardless of hours worked.
Rest and Meal Breaks Entitled to rest and meal breaks as per Maryland labour laws.
Same entitlement to rest and meal breaks as hourly employees.

To learn more about Maryland labor laws, you can access our informative guides on understanding your rights as a salaried employee in Maryland, as well as Maryland overtime laws.

Wage and Hour Regulations in Maryland

What are the Maximum Weekly Working Hours in Maryland?

In Maryland, there is no strict upper limit to the number of hours an adult employee can work under both state and federal law. The determination of minimum and maximum hours for employees largely depends on the employer’s discretion, provided there is no specific employment contract or company policy stating otherwise.

However, it’s important to note that federal labour laws, such as the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), set a standard for overtime pay. Under federal law, non-exempt employees are entitled to receive overtime pay at a rate of 1.5 times their regular hourly wage for all hours worked beyond 40 in a workweek.

While Maryland doesn’t have a specific maximum weekly working hour limit, it’s essential for employers to adhere to federal and state labour laws regarding overtime compensation and working conditions.

What is the Minimum Wage for Hourly Employees in Maryland?

The current minimum wage in Maryland has seen a significant change, aligning with the Fair Wage Act of 2023. Effective January 1, 2024, the minimum wage in Maryland for all employers, regardless of their size, is set at $15 per hour.

This new legislation enacts a notable increase from the 2023 minimum wage rates in Maryland, which were $13.25 for large employers and $12.80 for small employers.

Please note that minimum wage laws can change over time, so it’s advisable to stay informed about the latest updates and consult the official website of the Maryland Department of Labor or relevant authorities for the most current and accurate information regarding minimum wage rates in Maryland.

How Many Hours Qualify As Overtime and What is the Associated Pay in Maryland?

In Maryland, employees are entitled to overtime compensation when they exceed specified work hours in a workday or workweek. The overtime rules in Maryland are governed by state labour regulations, and it’s essential for both employers and employees to understand these provisions.

According to Maryland labour regulations, when an employee in the state works beyond 40 hours within a workweek, they become eligible for overtime compensation. Overtime pay is calculated at a rate of 1.5 times their regular hourly wage.

However, it’s important to note that while the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) sets a standard for overtime pay, some employees may be exempt from these regulations based on specific job duties and salary criteria. Under FLSA, employees who meet certain requirements, including performing supervisory or executive duties and receiving a salary of at least $684 per week, may be considered exempt from overtime pay.

Additionally, Maryland labour laws also allow for variations in minimum wage requirements among different municipalities and counties within the state. Employers and employees should be aware of any local ordinances that may set minimum wage rates different from the state’s standard rate.

Rest Laws in Maryland

What are the Offered Meal and Rest Breaks for Hourly Employees in Maryland?

In Maryland, there aren’t specific state rules for regular employee breaks, except for minors who get a 30-minute break for every 5 hours they work. But, employers must follow federal laws about break time. If employees work during their meal break, they should be paid for it. However, if they have a meal break without working, they don’t need to be paid.

The retail industry, on the other hand, has more specific regulations when it comes to breaks.

Since March 2011, Maryland’s Department of Labor has enforced the Healthy Retail Employee Act. This law mandates that retail businesses with 50 or more employees, operating for at least 20 weeks a year, provide unpaid breaks to workers who mainly sell goods to customers on-site. This rule excludes restaurants and wholesalers.

The length and frequency of breaks depend on the duration and consecutive hours of the work shift.

What Laws Govern Time Off and Leaves for Hourly Employees in Maryland?

In Maryland, employees are afforded certain rights and protections under the state’s leave of absence laws. These regulations are in place to ensure that employees have the opportunity to take time off for various reasons without risking their job security.

Some of the key legislations governing leave of absence in Maryland include:

  1. Maryland Healthy Working Families Act: This law requires that employers with 15 or more employees provide paid sick and safe leave for eligible employees. For employers with 14 or fewer employees, unpaid sick and safe leave is mandated for eligible employees. The determination of whether an employer is required to provide paid or unpaid earned sick and safe leave is based on the average monthly number of employees during the immediately preceding year, irrespective of full-time, part-time, temporary, or seasonal status.
  2. Model Policy Development: The Maryland Healthy Working Families Act mandates the Commissioner of Labor and Industry to develop a model policy for employers. Employers have the flexibility to award earned sick and safe leave at the beginning of the year or allow it to be accrued during the year.

These policies and regulations in Maryland aim to ensure that employees have access to essential leave benefits, such as sick and safe leave, to address their health and well-being, family responsibilities, and personal circumstances.

Deductions, Benefits, and Protections in Maryland

What are the Laws Regarding Pay Deductions for Hourly Employees in Maryland?

Maryland regulations allow for lawful deductions from an employee’s wages only in specific situations.

  • Mandatory Deductions: Employers are obligated to make deductions as mandated by federal or state law, such as income taxes or court-ordered garnishments.
  • Authorised Deductions: Deductions are permitted when an employee provides clear written authorization for expenses like insurance premiums, medical dues, or similar deductions, as long as they do not result in a reduction of the employee’s wage.
  • Collective Bargaining or Wage Agreements: Deductions can also be made when they are sanctioned by a collective bargaining or wage agreement, specifically intended for purposes like health and welfare or pension contributions.
  • Itemised Statements and Fair Compensation: Maryland law mandates that employers provide an itemised statement of deductions for each pay period. It is essential to emphasise that employers can make deductions only in these specified cases and must ensure that employees receive at least the required minimum wage after any deductions.

What are the Provided Hourly Employees Entitlements Under Maryland State Law?

In Maryland, various employee benefits and labour laws are in place to protect and uphold the rights and well-being of both employees and employers.

Maryland Employee Benefits and Labor Laws:

  1. Minimum Wage: Maryland, like many states, has established a minimum wage law to ensure that employees are paid fairly. As of January 1, 2024, Maryland’s minimum wage will be $15.00 per hour for all employers.
  2. Workers’ Compensation: Maryland, like other states, provides a workers’ compensation program that offers compensation to employees who suffer work-related injuries or illnesses. This program generally covers medical expenses and may provide benefits for temporary and permanent disabilities.
  3. Unemployment Insurance: Maryland requires employers to contribute to the state’s unemployment insurance program, which provides financial support to eligible workers who lose their jobs through no fault of their own.
  4. Health Insurance: Employers in Maryland may offer health insurance benefits to their employees, with specific plan details varying between employers. There may be state regulations governing aspects of health insurance, such as waiting periods and benefit levels, but these can differ among employers.
  5. Retirement Plans: Unlike some states, Maryland does not mandate specific retirement plans, but many employers in the state offer retirement plans such as 401(k) plans to help employees save for their retirement, often with employer contributions.
  6. Paid Sick Leave: Paid sick leave requirements in Maryland can vary among employers, and there is no universal state-mandated paid sick leave law. However, some cities within Maryland may have their own paid sick leave ordinances.

These Maryland labour laws and benefits are intended to promote fairness, well-being, and security in the workplace for both employees and employers.

What are the Provided Hourly Employee Protections Under Maryland State Law?

Employment laws are not one-size-fits-all, and Maryland has its own unique set of regulations that govern the workplace. While federal laws provide a baseline of standards for employers nationwide, it’s crucial for businesses operating in Maryland to have a clear understanding of the state’s specific employment laws. This knowledge is essential for ensuring compliance and fostering a fair and harmonious work environment.

  • At-Will Employment: Maryland, like many states, follows the “at-will” employment doctrine. This means that both employers and employees have the flexibility to terminate employment relationships at any time, with or without cause, unless a written contract states otherwise. It’s important to note that Maryland prohibits termination based on discrimination, which is covered under various state and federal laws.
  • Anti-Discrimination Laws: Maryland law prohibits employers from discriminating against employees based on various protected characteristics, such as race, colour, national origin, age, religion, disability, sex, and pregnancy-related conditions. These protections are in place to ensure a workplace free from discrimination, harassment, and retaliation. The specific laws include the Maryland Fair Employment Practices Act and the Maryland Pregnant Workers Fairness Act.
  • Workers’ Compensation: Maryland, like most states, has a workers’ compensation program in place. This program provides compensation to employees who suffer work-related injuries or illnesses. It typically covers medical expenses and may provide benefits for temporary and permanent disabilities.
  • Unemployment Insurance: Employers in Maryland are required to contribute to the state’s unemployment insurance program. This program offers financial support to eligible workers who lose their jobs through no fault of their own.
  • Health Insurance: While Maryland employers are not mandated to provide health insurance benefits, many offer such benefits to employees. The specifics of these plans can vary among employers, but there may be state regulations that govern aspects such as waiting periods and benefit levels.
  • Retirement Plans: Maryland does not require specific retirement plans like some states, but many employers offer retirement plans such as 401(k) plans to help employees save for their future. These plans may include potential employer contributions.

Termination of Employment in Maryland

What are the Termination Laws for Hourly Employees in Maryland?

Termination laws for hourly employees in Maryland are designed to protect the rights of both employers and employees while ensuring fair and lawful employment practices. It’s important for both parties to understand these laws to maintain a respectful and legally compliant work environment.

  • At-Will Employment: Maryland follows the “at-will” employment doctrine, which means that either the employer or the employee can terminate the employment relationship at any time, with or without cause, and with or without notice, unless there is a written contract stating otherwise. This doctrine provides flexibility but comes with certain legal considerations.
  • Written Contracts: If there is a written employment contract specifying the terms and duration of employment, termination must comply with the contract’s terms. Breach of a written employment contract may lead to legal claims.
  • Wrongful Termination: Maryland law prohibits employers from terminating employees for reasons that violate public policy or state statutes. If the termination is in violation of a specific state law or regulation, it may be considered wrongful discharge.
  • Constructive Discharge: Constructive discharge occurs when an employer allows the work environment to become so hostile or intolerable that a reasonable person would feel compelled to resign. Employees who resign under such circumstances may have grounds for wrongful termination claims. Establishing constructive discharge claims can be challenging but is possible with supporting evidence.
  • Final Paycheck: Maryland law requires that employers pay employees, including hourly employees, all wages due for work performed before the termination of employment on or before the day the employee would have been paid if the employment had not ended. This ensures that employees receive their final paychecks promptly.
  • Unused Vacation and Sick Leave: The treatment of unused vacation and sick leave upon termination in Maryland depends on the employer’s written policies and any communicated terms at the time of hiring. Employers should clearly communicate their policies regarding the payout of unused leave to hourly employees.
  • Discrimination Protections: Employers cannot terminate hourly employees based on discriminatory reasons prohibited by anti-discrimination laws, such as race, gender, age, religion, disability, and other protected characteristics.

Should Severance Pay Be Provided to Hourly Employees in Maryland?

Severance compensation for hourly workers in Maryland is not statutorily mandated, neither by state nor federal regulations. Whether an employer opts to provide severance benefits to its hourly workforce typically falls within the purview of the employer’s discretion and may be delineated in an employment contract, collective bargaining arrangement, or corporate policy.

In the state of Maryland, employers do not generally bear a legal obligation to furnish severance packages to their hourly personnel, barring the existence of a contractual commitment or corporate directive that expressly outlines such provisions. Nonetheless, certain employers may opt to extend severance offerings to their hourly employees as an act of goodwill or to encourage the execution of a release of claims, which might entail relinquishing the right to litigate against the employer.

Should an employer opt to grant severance benefits to its hourly workforce, it is incumbent upon them to articulate the terms and conditions of the severance package in a lucid, written format. This would encompass specifying the quantum of financial compensation, the duration of sustained benefits (if applicable), and other pertinent particulars. This meticulous approach is instrumental in averting misapprehensions and potential disputes.

Both employers and hourly workers would be well-advised to meticulously comprehend the stipulations of any severance accords and, if necessary, seek legal counsel to ensure compliance with Maryland’s intricate employment statutes and regulations.

Final Thoughts

In summary, comprehending Maryland’s employment laws is essential for employers and employees alike. While the state operates under the “employee at will” doctrine, providing significant termination flexibility, employees do have some safeguards against wrongful termination. Maryland’s specific laws encompass areas such as civil rights, wage payment, and leave entitlements. Staying well-informed about these regulations is paramount for fostering a mutually beneficial and harmonious employment environment within the state.

Important Cautionary Note

This content is provided for informational purposes only. While we make every effort to ensure the accuracy of the information presented, we cannot guarantee that it is free of errors or omissions. Users are advised to independently verify any critical information and should not solely rely on the content provided.