The Department of Labor is hosting a series of stakeholder engagement sessions on implementing Marlyand’s paid family and medical leave law. County governments were well-represented at the first meeting.
The Time to Care Act (TCA), passed by the Maryland legislature earlier this year, requires employers with at least 15 employees in the state to offer State-mandated paid family leave benefits beginning in 2025. All 24 of Maryland’s counties — as employers — fall under the TCA requirements to offer the future paid leave benefit.
The 2023 legislative session ushered in a wave of operational and implementation updates to Maryland’s Family and Medical Leave Insurance (FAMLI) program passed in 2022. These updates include a new timeline for employers to implement the benefit and/or apply for a private plan of equal benefits opt-out.
To implement the benefits program, the Maryland Department of Labor (DOL) established the Division of Family and Medical Leave Insurance (FAMLI), tasked with establishing and administering Maryland’s paid family and medical leave insurance system. A large part of the Division’s work in 2023 will be drafting the regulations that will govern the system.
As it starts to weigh regulations, the Division is inviting stakeholders, community groups, and interested members of the public to participate in an informal regulatory engagement process. This informal process does not replace and is in addition to the formal regulatory process governed by the Administrative Procedures Act, which will begin as usual after proposed regulations are published in the Maryland Register.
MACo was identified as a stakeholder of interest for the informal regulatory engagement process. Associate Policy Director Brianna January will participate in the collaborative stakeholder process for setting the rules on behalf of Maryland counties.
Informal regulatory and stakeholder engagement process
There will be six “phases” to the process, corresponding to six policy areas DOL has identified as benefiting from substantive public engagement. For each phase, the Department will first release a discussion document that lays out areas for discussion and comment. One week after the release of each discussion document, DOL will hold a public meeting by video conference where members of the public can sign up to provide comments on or responses to one or more of the topics covered in the discussion document. Several weeks after each meeting, DOL will circulate a draft that pertains to the policy area under discussion in that phase.
The first public meeting for the informal regulatory engagement process was held (virtually) at 1:00 pm on June 6, 2023. This was a preliminary session in addition to the six policy phases. During the meeting, stakeholders reviewed the process for these informal regulatory engagement sessions and provided comments on the engagement process and the regulations as a whole.
The June 6 meeting served as an introduction to the new Division and how it plans to manage the regulatory process. The following topics were discussed:
- Introductions to the new DOL staff overseeing the FAMLI program
- Overview of the implementation timeline
- The informal regulatory and engagement process
- The six phases of informal regulatory drafting and public comment (topics of each phase will be announced soon, but the first phase will be “private plans”)
- The formal regulatory process
The June 6 meeting closed with a question and answer period where stakeholders posed concerns and questions that should be addressed by regulation.
Next steps in engagement
The first policy phase will begin when DOL releases the first discussion document on June 7. The virtual public meeting for this phase is tentatively scheduled for the afternoon of June 15, 2023. The policy topic for the first phase will be rules pertaining to employer-sponsored private plans. Written public comments on the Phase ONe discussion document will be due by June 20.
Subsequent phases will be scheduled to begin every two-to-three weeks thereafter throughout the summer. DOL will publish a calendar in the coming weeks.
MACo is also participating in a smaller cohort of local government stakeholders to help guide FAMLI implementation.
Questions can be sent to the FAMLI Division’s general inquiry inbox: FAMLI.email@example.com.