Wage and hour laws are state and federal laws that cover the conditions of a worker’s employment and how much the employee is paid for his or her time. These laws often govern issues such as overtime pay requirements, minimum wage requirements, sick leave and meal and rest breaks. Knowledge of this area of law is essential for employers, since compliance with both state and federal laws is mandatory.
Minimum Wage in Maryland
The current federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour, while the current minimum wage in Maryland is $8.25 per hour. This rate is schedule to increase to $8.75 in July 2016. Montgomery County and Prince George’s County each have their own minimum wages of $9.55 per hour. Since the state minimum wage is higher than the federal minimum rate, the state rate applies. Exemptions exist for employees of amusement and recreational establishments and workers who are under the age of 20.
Minimum Wage of Tipped Workers: Any employee who earns more than $30 per month in tips can be paid a minimum wage of $3.63 per hour. However, the employee’s wages and tips combined must equal the state minimum wage in order for this rate to be applicable.
Does Minimum Wage Apply to Me: Minimum wage requirements will apply to most Maryland employers. Exemptions do exist for some professions, including certain agricultural employees, executives, administrative supervisors and other professionals, volunteers, outside salesmen and commissioned employees. For a complete list of exemptions, employers can contact the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation.
When Are Raises Required: The giving of raises is not required by either Maryland or federal law. Raises are generally based on job performance, and an employer can give an employee a raise at his or her sole discretion.
Work Hours in Maryland
There is no limit to the number of hours an adult employee can work under Maryland or federal law. As long as there is no employment contract or company policy in place that states otherwise, an employer can set an employee’s minimum and maximum hours and change them at any time at her or his sole discretion.
Paying Overtime: Overtime must be paid to employees who work over 40 hours per week at 1.5 times their normal hourly rate. All of the professions exempt from Maryland minimum wage law are also exempt from receiving overtime. Workers employed by bowling establishments and non-hospital facilities that provide on-site medical care shall receive overtime for weekly hours exceeding 48. For agricultural workers, overtime is based on a 60-hour work week.
Guaranteed Breaks and Meals: Under Maryland law, meal breaks and rest breaks are considered benefits and are given at the discretion of the employer. Federal law does allow nursing mothers to take breaks to express milk for up to one year following the birth of their children.
Paid Time-off and Sick Pay: Maryland state law does not guarantee employees any paid time off, nor does federal law. Vacation time, sick leave and holidays are considered benefits and if offered, can be agreed upon between employer and employee.
Notice Period for Employee Termination: In Maryland, unless an employment contract or agreement or company policy is in place that states otherwise, employees work “at the will” of the employer and can be terminated at any time for any reason.
Plant Closings & Layoffs: Federal law states that if a company has at least 100 full-time employees and at least 100 employees whose combined works hours equal 4,000 hours per week, 60 days’ notice shall be given to employees in the event of a layoff or plant closing. While Maryland law suggests that 90 days’ notice be given if the company has at least 50 employees and has operated in the state of Maryland for one year, this is merely a guideline and therefore voluntary.
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