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Division of Labor and Industry: The Maryland Guide to Wage Payment and Employment Standards

January 10, 2011

This booklet is a publication of the Maryland Division of Labor and Industry, Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation.The Guide is meant to be used by employees and employers as a general reference source on wages and employment in Maryland. The information contained within identifies and discusses many fundamental elements of the Maryland law, and attempts to address many of the most often asked questions. This booklet is not exhaustive, however, and should not be cited as legal authority or used as a substitute for legal advice.

A Note From Charley: This is derived directly from the official Maryland Department of Labor’s Division of Labor and Industry Website. To verify that this information is the most current possible, please go to their official website by clicking here: Welcome to the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation. In other articles throughout this blog, The Maryland Guide to Wage Payment and Employment Standards surfaces many times. Note that some of the formatting was changed to conserve on webspace; however, the content is unchanged from the official website. Any updates will be posted from time to time as they become available.

The Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing, and Regulation

Division of Labor and Industry

The Maryland Guide to Wage Payment and Employment Standards

located at


The Maryland Wage Payment and Collection Law sets forth the rights by which employees receive wages. The law states when and how often employees must be paid, general guidelines for making wage deductions, which actions are prohibited and how employees may enforce their rights.

The Maryland Wage and Hour Law concerns minimum wage and overtime. The law specifies which categories of employers and employees are exempt, and provides enforcement powers and remedies. The Maryland Wage and Hour Law is similar to the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), but contains some important differences. In every case, workers and employers are advised to contact the U.S. Department of Labor, Wage and Hour Division, at (410) 962-4984, to assure compliance under the federal law. Where either state or federal law is more stringent, the higher standard applies.

* In the case of both Maryland laws, the age of a minor or the immigration status of an alien have no bearing on a worker’s rights to receive earned wages which each provide.

* Federal, state and local governments are exempt from the provisions of both the Wage Payment and Collection Law and the Wage and Hour Law, but they must comply with the federal Fair Labor Standards Act.


If you are an employee who believes your wages have been illegally withheld, For those wishing to file a claim for unpaid wages, and for quickest results, it is suggested that a CERTIFIED letter (See Sample) RETURN RECEIPT REQUESTED, be sent to the employer stating the amount of money owed, identifying the hours and days or commissions this money represents, and demanding payment by a specific deadline (such as 10 days from receipt of the certified letter) Be sure to note that you are pursuing your claim under the State’s Wage Payment and Collection Law, Labor and Employment Article, Title 3, Subtitle 5. Sending the letter Certified Mail, so as to receive back the green receipt proving the employer signed for and received the letter, will assist you in filing your claim. Keep a copy of this letter to support your claim. If this action is not successful, you have the following options under the Maryland Wage Payment and Collection Law (you may only choose one):

1. An employee may file a claim in the District Court. When a court finds that wages were withheld in violation of the Maryland Wage Payment Law, and not as a result of a bona fide dispute, the court may award damages of up to three times the amount of the unpaid wage plus attorney fees.

2. An employee may use the services of an attorney to file a claim for the wages due. As noted above, where a court finds that wages were withheld in violation of the Maryland Wage Payment Law, and not as a result of a bona fide dispute, the court may award damages of up to three times the amount of the unpaid wage plus attorney fees.

3. Under certain circumstances, Maryland law imposes criminal penalties for an employer who deliberately fails to pay the wage of an employee without a valid reason, or provides employment with the intent not to pay.
If your claim involves non payment of the minimum wage or overtime pay, you should contact the U.S. Department of Labor at 410-962-4984 or Wage and Hour Division. If the work was performed in a neighboring state, or Baltimore City, the numbers below may be of assistance:

Virginia (804) 786-2386
West Virginia (304) 558-7890
Washington, D.C. 1-866-487-9243
Pennsylvania (717) 787-4671
New Jersey (609) 292-2337
Delaware (302) 761-8200
Baltimore City (410) 396-4835

Download sample letter in MSWord format


A. What is “Work”?

* Work is service performed by an employee at the request and under the control of an employer and, therefore, on the employer’s time.

* Work is compensable — that is, something for which an employee is entitled to be paid.

* Work under the Maryland Wage Payment and Collection Law does not include volunteer service, if the individual took the job with the full and voluntary understanding that he or she would not be paid, there is in fact no employer-employee relationship, and the activity is performed for the benefit of a charitable, educational, not for profit, or religious organization.

Work does not necessarily require an employee to do or accomplish anything. Work may only involve fulfilling the requirements or following the directions of the employer — even where an employer instructs a worker to report to the jobsite at 7 AM and do nothing until called on. Work may even mean sleep time if a worker must remain on the premises for anytime less than 24 hours. Where free to leave without the possibility of consequence, the worker is on his or her own time, even if instructed to remain “on call” with a beeper, and may not be entitled to compensation. Once called back to work, however, compensation becomes due.

B. Change of Work Hours: An Employer’s Right. In the absence of an employment contract, agreement or policy which states otherwise, an employer may shorten or lengthen an employee’s work hours, or change the shift or times for employment, at any time at the employer’s discretion. [Note: Generally, qualifying employees who work more than 40 hours in a work week must be paid time and one-half for overtime].

C. Employee or Independent Contractor? Maryland wage and employment laws do not apply to “Independent Contractors”. The question of who is an employee and who is an independent contractor is important and often complex. Moreover, the financial consequences in making this determination are significant for both workers and employers.

For workers, these consequences include entitlements to minimum wage and overtime pay, unemployment benefits, workers’ compensation benefits, Social Security employer contributions, federal and state tax withholdings, protections against illegal employment discrimination, etc. At stake for employers are the financial and legal obligations in complying with these federal and state requirements. A signed agreement declaring that a worker is an independent contractor is not, by itself, enough to establish the fact.

The “economic reality” of the work relationship determines the worker’s status. Thus, if two individuals in fact stand in the relation of employer and employee to each other, it is irrelevant that the worker has agreed to be called an independent contractor. The measurement, method, or designation of compensation is also of lesser importance, if the relationship of employer and employee in fact exists. Many government agencies have their own criteria for making the employee versus independent contractor distinction. These criteria often are established under separate laws.

* Factors in Making the Distinction Between an Employee and an Independent Contractor.

Although many factors are considered, and no one factor by itself is controlling, the following basic principles often apply in determining whether a worker is an employee or an independent contractor: Generally, the employer/employee relationship exists when the person for whom services are performed has the right to control and direct the individual who performs the services, not only as to the result to be accomplished by the work, but also as to the details and means by which that result is accomplished. That is, an employee, and not an independent contractor, is subject to the will and control of the employer not just as to “what” shall be done, but “how” it shall be done.

The right to discharge is also an important factor indicating that the person possessing that right is an employer, and the person subject to it is an employee. Other factors characteristic of an employer-employee relationship are the furnishing of tools, materials and a place to work to the individual who performs the services. Independent contractors are persons who are in business for themselves. Their business is usually different from the business of the person for whom the work is performed. Generally, those who follow an independent trade, business, or profession, in which they offer their services to the public, and who may be in a position to suffer financial loss rather than a guaranteed wage, are independent contractors and not employees.

Persons involved in certain professions and occupations are often conducting business as independent contractors. These include physicians, lawyers, dentists, veterinarians, construction contractors and subcontractors, certified public accountants, etc. However, many persons with these occupations work for firms, associations, institutions, leasing companies or organizations and, in those cases, may be employees and not independent contractors.

* Case Studies. The following three case studies are generalized examples of situations where the question of employee or independent contractor commonly arise. They are by no means comprehensive, and illustrate the operation of only some of the factors applied in making the distinction.

A. A company runs a referral service for physical therapists, where hospitals or other health care organizations call to obtain temporary workers in that field. When an order is received, the company sends out a physical therapist from its list. The client health care organization pays the referral company who, in turn, keeps an amount for its overhead and profit and pays an hourly or daily amount to the physical therapist. Although the physical therapist is not directly supervised by the referral company, the company maintains the right to expect adherence to acceptable performance standards and to discharge the physical therapist on any adverse reports from client health care organizations.

The referral company’s right to discharge, together with its administration of the contract with the client health care organization and its payment of wages to the worker, appear to indicate that the physical therapist is most likely an employee and not an independent contractor.

B. A general contractor hires a painter to paint a new house. The general contractor is not, herself, a housepainter. The painter uses his own tools, obtains his own materials, is free to hire helpers if necessary, comes and goes when he likes (as long as he gets the job done properly and on schedule), and bids for other jobs during the period he is performing the job for the general contractor.

The painter appears to be in business for himself. The general contractor provides no assistance or direction to the painter in the performance of the job, but is only interested in the end product. The painter is most likely an independent contractor and not an employee.

C. A truck owner hires a driver to deliver loads the owner has contracted to haul for a large transportation company. The driver is free to take the truck home with her but is instructed to leave it parked on the street. The driver is free to devise her own routes, reject any load she wishes, and work her own hours within the constraints of the company’s deadlines. She is also free from direct daily supervision, merely reporting to the owner on a weekly or bi-weekly basis. The owner pays all bills on the truck including fuel, tolls, insurance and maintenance. The owner pays the driver 30% of the gross receipts.

Although some elements exist which would seem to point to the driver as an independent contractor, other elements outweigh them including the owner’s control over the truck, “hiring” of the driver, and control over the contract with the transportation company. On balance, therefore, the driver is more likely an employee than an independent contractor.


A. What is a “Wage”? A wage is payment or compensation earned by an employee for work performed under an employer’s direction, or with the employer’s knowledge or consent. Generally, wages are paid as currency (U.S. Dollars) representing a length of time worked, but may also include the following:

1. Bonus. This could include a monetary reward for finishing a special project or completing a length of employment.

2. Commission. This is usually a portion of the sale price of some commodity or service which the employee has sold on behalf of the employer, or some promised amount of money as a reward for making the sale.

3. Fringe Benefit. This could be many things, but often involves some accrued or accumulated compensation such as vacation (“annual”) leave, sick leave, or other promised benefit. 4. Any Other “Remuneration” (compensation) promised for work performed. Examples could include room and board, materials and inventory, etc. B. Frequency of Pay. Employees in Maryland must be paid at least once every two weeks or twice in a month. However, Executive, Professional and Administrative employees may be paid less frequently (See the discussion on Executive, Professional and Administrative employees, Section V. B).

C. Wage Payment at Termination: When Final Pay Due. Each employer shall pay an employee, or the authorized representative of an employee, all wages due for work that the employee performed before the termination of employment, on or before the day on which the employee would have been paid the wages if the employment had not terminated.

D. Wages Paid on Time. Generally, an employer must set regular paydays, and pay all earned wages of an employee on time regardless of whether the employee has turned in a time sheet or punch card, quit without notice, or provided any other form or document required by the employer. In addition, earned wages must be paid on time whether or not the employer has received payment from a customer or client for a job on which the employee worked.

If payday falls on a nonwork day, such as a weekend or holiday, wages must be paid on the preceding workday.

E. Deductions from Wages. Work, whether satisfactory or not, must be awarded compensation. Wage deductions are extraordinary, and are prohibited unless:

1. A court has ordered or allowed the employer to make the deduction. Examples include court ordered wage garnishments and orders to pay child support.

2. The Commissioner of the Maryland Division of Labor and Industry has allowed the deduction to offset or “pay for” something of value the employee has received. Examples include long distance telephone calls on the employer’s business phone, personal loans, wage advances, etc.

3. Allowed by some law or regulation of the government. Examples include state and federal taxes.

4. The employee has given express written authorization to the employer to make the deduction. This should take the form of a separate and distinct statement, signed by the employee, concerning only the deduction and nothing more. Even with a proper authorization, however, employers must still pay at least the federal minimum wage in the case of a deduction made to offset a loss to the employer due to the admitted or court determined fault or negligence of an employee (for example, careless damage to the employer’s truck). If the deduction is made to offset something the employee received or retained from the employer which had monetary value (for example, personal loan, use of long-distance telephone line, materials, etc.), the deduction may, in that case, reduce the employee’s wages below the minimum wage. Finally, an authorized deduction may be invalid if it violates or is inconsistent with other federal or state laws or regulations.

F. Deductions for Unemployment and Workers’ Compensation. An employer may not deduct any part of the wages of an employee as representing or contributing to the employer’s legal obligation to pay unemployment or workers’ compensation insurance premiums.

G. Unused Vacation at Termination — Is It Payable? When an employee has earned or accrued his or her leave in exchange for work, an employee has a right to be compensated for unused leave upon the termination of his or her employment regardless of the employer’s policy or language in the employee handbook.

H. Unused Sick Leave at Termination — Is It Payable? Because sick leave is generally meant to be used in the case of sickness or for medical attention, its use is limited to those situations. Sick leave is therefore a contingency against illness, and cannot be claimed at termination in the same manner as unused vacation leave, unless expressly allowed in a contract or an employer’s policy.

I. Holidays and Holiday Pay: No Entitlement. Unless there is an employment contract, agreement or policy providing for such benefits, state law does not guarantee days off for holidays or any special holiday pay for private sector employees, except an unpaid religious day of rest each week for retail employees who give prior written notice to their employers. Moreover, an employer may require an employee to work on a holiday, and is not required to pay extra in doing so.

J. Temporary Closures, Snow Days, Etc.: Not Compensable. An employer may temporarily close its business for any reason and for any length of time without offering special compensation to non-exempt employees who cannot go to work as a result. This is commonly true, for example, during snow emergencies. However, for salaried employees who fit the definition of Executive, Administrative or Professional (defined in this Guide at paragraph V. B.), and who are ready, willing, and able to work, deductions may not be made for time when work is not available. Doing so will remove this category of employee from exempt salary status, entitling the worker to payment of overtime. [See, also, paragraph VI. B. concerning Displaced Workers and Reductions in Force].

K. Change of Pay: In the Employer’s Discretion. In the absence of an employment contract, agreement or policy which states otherwise, an employer may lower the pay of an employee at any time following one full pay period advance notice. Prior notice of a pay increase is not required.

L. Severance Pay. Maryland law does not guarantee severance pay when employment terminates, unless promised in advance in an employment contract, agreement or policy. For information on the federal law involving severance pay, contact the U.S. Department of Labor, Employee Benefits Security Administration at (202) 219-8776, or Wage and Hour Division at (410) 962-4984.

M. Uniforms: Passing On the Cost. Generally, the cost of providing and maintaining a uniform which bears the name or logo of the employer may be passed on to an employee through a wage deduction — with the employee’s signed written authorization. However, an employee may be held responsible for the depreciated value of the uniform if it is not returned as required.

N. Compensable Time: For What Time Must An Employee Be Paid? All of the time an employer requires an employee to be at work is compensable time, whether or not the employee is officially “on the clock”. This includes time driving in the employer’s truck from worksite to worksite during the day. It also includes time driving from the shop to the work site at the beginning of the day and returning to the shop at the end of the day, if the employer requires the employee to report to and return to the shop. Some examples of illegal practices include the following:

Example 1: An employee is required to report to work at 7:30, but is not paid for the time before punch-in at 8:00.

Example 2: An employee is not paid for the time she is required to clean-up the employer’s shop at the end of the day.

O. Commuting to Work: Non-Compensable. Time spent travelling or “commuting” to work is non-compensable (not payable). This is true, even where an employee must drive a long distance. However, as stated in the previous section, once reporting to work (such as to the employer’s shop or office, or any other place an employer requires an employee to report), the employee must then be paid for the time necessary to travel to a work site or to accomplish some other mission the employer assigns.

P. Notice of Termination: Payment of Wages During Notice Period. Unless expressly provided in an employment contract, agreement or policy, an employer is not required to allow an employee to work the full two week termination notice period (or whatever other termination notice period given by the employee), nor pay the employee for the time not actually allowed to work.

Q. Tipped Employees: Payment of Less than Minimum Wage. Employees who earn at least $30 per month in tips may, under Maryland law, be paid a portion of the minimum wage by their employer. This amount may be no less than $2.38 per hour provided that earned tips for the week combined with the $2.38 per hour equal at least the minimum wage for all hours worked. Where an employee’s earnings fall short of the minimum wage due to meager tips, the employer must make up the difference. Note: Tipped employees who are from time to time assigned to perform non-tip related tasks must be paid by their employer at least the full minimum wage rate for that non-tipped time.

R. Trainings and Meetings: Compensable Time. Generally, an employee must be paid for training time and meetings — whether held during regular work hours or not — if attendance at a training or meeting is required and not “voluntary”. Trainings and meetings are not “voluntary” if it is generally known, or the employee reasonably believes, that non-attendance will result in some negative effect on employment.

S. Direct Deposit of Wages: Voluntary. With voluntary employee authorization, an employer may direct deposit wages. Though free to encourage participation in this system, an employer may currently not require it.

T. Recordkeeping: An Employer’s Responsibility. Each employer shall keep, for at least 3 years, in or about the place of employment, a record of the name, address, and occupation of each employee; the rate of pay of each employee; the amount that is paid each pay period to each employee, and; the hours that each employee works each day and workweek.

U. Holding Wages: “One Pay in the Hole”. An employer may not keep any part of the wage of an employee, either by withholding an entire paycheck, part of a paycheck, or by way of incremental wage deductions from several paychecks, as security against some future or contingent occurrence. This practice amounts to a confiscation of pay and is a direct violation of the law requiring timely payment of earned wages. [Note: This section concerns the indefinite holding of wages as security, not the short-term delay of pay for payroll processing purposes].

V. Bounced Paychecks. Paying wages with a bad check is the same as failing to pay wages and may subject an employer to civil and criminal penalties under the Wage Payment and Collection Law and the Maryland Criminal Code.

W. Pay for Lunch and Other Breaks. There is no law requiring an employer to provide breaks, including lunch breaks, for workers 18 years old or older (See section VI. D.). An employer who chooses to provide a break, however, does not have to pay wages for lunch periods or other breaks in excess of 20 minutes where the employee is free to leave the worksite (or workstation if leaving the workplace is physically impractical), in fact takes their lunch or break (whether freely choosing to leave or remain at the worksite), and the employee does not actually perform work.

If employees are told their pay will be reduced each day by one-half hour for lunch, and they are not free to take this lunch period without an expectation or reasonable understanding that they must work or be on hand to work, they must be paid for the time. A “reasonable understanding” that they must work or be on hand to work is a condition in which it is generally known, or the employee reasonably believes, that failure to perform work (or be available “on hand” to perform work) during their break, will result in some negative effect on employment.

[See also section VI. D. regarding rights to breaks and benefits]

X. Commissions. Commissioned sales agreements between an employee and employer are generally enforceable contracts. Where an employee completes the specified services on a sale or account, and the transaction is finalized through settlement, delivery and payment, the commission is usually payable unless a reasonable — but not excessive — lag time is agreed to in the event of customer return or default. Where a commission is paid in advance of receipt of payment from the customer, but no provision in an agreement between the parties provides for a refund to the employer of commissions paid, no deduction may be made from the future wage of the commissioned employee in the event of customer return or default. Unconditional agreements to forgo commissions upon termination of employment are unenforceable to the extent all required services necessary to claim the commission were completed by the employee prior to termination.


A. In General. Overtime is payment to an employee of one and one-half (1.5) times the regular hourly wage for work performed in excess of 40 hours in a 7-day week. For some occupations in Maryland, overtime is calculated based on a different period of time. Certain farmworkers, for example, receive overtime for hours worked over 60 in a week. However, under state and federal laws, some employers are exempt from the requirement to pay overtime, and some employees are exempt from the right to receive it. Leave hours, including vacation, sick time, holiday, etc., are not counted toward the accumulated hours in a week for overtime purposes. Overtime is calculated on hours actually worked.B. Salaried Employees: No Overtime. Salaried employees, who fit the description of “Executive”, “Administrative” or “Professional”, are generally exempt under the law from receiving overtime, regardless of the number of hours they are required to work in a week. Some employers, in attempting to avoid paying overtime, make the decision to pay a salary to workers who do not fit the definition of Executive, Administrative or Professional. This practice does not eliminate the obligation of an employer to pay overtime based on a mathematical calculation of the employee’s average hourly wage to employees who are otherwise eligible.

For Executive, Administrative and Professional employees receiving salaries, an employer may not generally deduct or “dock” from wages any amount of time for missed work which is less than a full day. Doing so may remove the employee from the “exempt” status under the Wage and Hour Law, and entitle him or her to overtime pay after 40 hours. An employer may, however, deduct any of the hours of missed work from an employee’s accrued leave reserves (e.g., vacation, sick leave, compensatory time, etc.) without jeopardizing the exempt status.

To fall under one of the three exempt categories, the following criteria are used for quick reference:

1.  Executive: An Executive employee is one who, as a primary function of their job, regularly exercises discretion and independent judgment in the management of all or part of an enterprise; who directs the work of at least two employees, and who has the authority to hire, fire or promote, or whose recommendations as to decisions to hire, fire or promote are given particular weight, and; who is compensated on a fee or salary basis of at least $250 per week, excluding board, lodging or other facilities.

2.  Administrative: An Administrative employee is one who, as a primary function of their job, regularly exercises discretion and independent judgment relating to management policies or general operations of a business or academic institution; commonly receives only general supervision for work along specialized or technical lines requiring special training, experience or knowledge, and; who is compensated on a fee or salary basis of at least $250 per week, excluding board, lodging, or other facilities.

3.  Professional: A Professional employee is one who, as a primary function of their job, consistently exercises discretion and independent judgment in performing non-routine intellectual work; performs work requiring an application of an advanced knowledge, or prolonged specialized academic or intellectual study, relating to a field of science, art, education or other academic discipline, and; who is compensated on a fee or salary basis of at least $250 per week, excluding board, lodging, or other facilities.

C. Hourly and Non-Executive, Non-Administrative and Non-Professional Employees: May Receive Overtime. Hourly and “hourly-type” employees (who do not fit the definitions of Executive, Administrative or Professional), even thought they may receive a salary, generally are entitled to overtime. Some examples of “hourly-type” employees include office clerical workers, landscape laborers, fast-food employees, health care workers not meeting the regulatory definition of “professional” (including most categories of nurses in non-state facilities), dishwashers, construction and factory workers, day care workers, maintenance workers, etc. Where such employees receive a salary, as mentioned above, employers must mathematically compute the average hourly wage rate by dividing hours into salary in order to determine the amount of overtime compensation to be paid at the rate of time and one-half.

D. Independent Contractors. Independent Contractors are exempt from federal and State overtime laws. However, workers who are called independent contractors, but in reality are employees, may not be exempt (see Section III. C above).

E. Employers Not Required to Pay Overtime Under Maryland Law:

  1. Trucking companies which operate interstate
  2. Hotels or motels
  3. Restaurants
  4. Gasoline service stations
  5. Private country clubs
  6. Not for profit temporary home care services
  7. Not for profit concert promoter or theater
  8. Some amusement or recreational establishments, including seasonal swimming pools (However, companies which manage such establishments may still be required to pay overtime)
  9. Food processing companies engaged in canning, freezing, packing, or first processing of perishable or seasonal fresh produce, poultry, or seafood.

F. Employees Not Eligible for Overtime Under Maryland Law:

  1. Certain retail mechanics, partspersons, or salespersons who sell or service cars, farm equipment, trailers or trucks
  2. Taxicab drivers
  3. Executive, Administrative and Professional employees (as discussed before)
  4. Outside salesmen
  5. Commissioned employees
  6. A child, parent, spouse, or other member of the employer’s immediate family
  7. Employee of a movie theater

[NOTE: the federal law may be different or more defined regarding some of the topics, definitions and examples discussed above. For more information, contact the U.S. Department of Labor, Wage and Hour Division at (410) 962-4984]


A. Employment At-Will: Termination of Employment. (Not under the enforcement powers of the Division of Labor and Industry) In Maryland, employees work “at the will” of their employers. This means, in the absence of an express contract, agreement or policy to the contrary, an employee may be hired or fired for almost any reason — whether fair or not — or for no reason at all.

There are certain exceptions to this general rule which provide some protection to employees from illegal discrimination based on such categories as race, color, gender, national origin, religion, age, disability or marital status. Examples of other employment at-will exceptions include laws which protect employees from termination or retaliation for filing workers’ compensation claims, for attempting to enforce rights to receive overtime or the minimum wage, for asserting rights to work in a safe and healthy workplace, for refusing to commit criminal acts, for reporting for jury duty or military service, or for being subject to a wage attachment for any one indebtedness.

Terminating an employee for any of these specific reasons may constitute a violation under the applicable State or federal law.

B. Displaced Workers: Reductions in Force. Although in possession of broad discretionary powers to terminate workers at-will, employers may nevertheless be required under the federal WARN Law to provide advance notice of layoffs to employees under certain circumstances. In addition, the Maryland Economic Stabilization Act provides for the adoption of voluntary guidelines to be followed by employers regarding advance notification of reductions in operations, provision of information on continuation of benefits, and mechanisms for State assistance. For more information, contact the Maryland Dislocated Worker Unit at (410) 767-2803. Maryland law also requires employers to give notice to their local Office of Unemployment Insurance when laying off 25 or more employees for a common reason for periods in excess of 7 days.

C. Setting the Terms of Employment. In the absence of a specific contract of employment limiting such action (and with due regard to the limitations imposed under applicable child labor laws), an employer may require an employee to work overtime, to work on holidays, to work at night, or to perform extra or different duties than the employee was originally hired to perform, as the need may arise for the employer. An employer may also treat one employee differently than other employees, such as by providing compensation at a different rate of pay. As in the case of employment termination, however, the power to do these things is limited by the prohibition against illegal discrimination/retaliation discussed in the section above. Although sometimes appearing unfair to an affected employee, such practices are not necessarily illegal.

D. Breaks, Benefits and Days Off. * There is no law requiring an employer to provide breaks, including lunch breaks, unless the employee is under the age of 18. Minors under 18 must receive a 30 minute break for every 5 hours of work. In addition, state law does not guarantee days off for holidays or any special holiday pay for private sector employees, except an unpaid religious day of rest each week for retail employees who give prior written notice to their employers. * Maryland law does not require the award of benefits. Examples include vacation leave, sick leave, compensatory time, holidays and holiday pay, health and life insurance, bonuses, severance pay, etc. The right to claim benefits only arises through a prior agreement of the parties. [See also section IV. W. regarding pay for breaks]

E. Drug Tests. Generally, when following specific legal procedures and for “legitimate business purpose(s)”, Maryland employers may require employees to be tested for the illegal use of alcohol and drugs. [Maryland Annotated Code, Health-General Article, Section 17-214.] Such tests should be conducted at the employer’s expense.


Both employees and employers may call the Division of Labor and Industry at (410) 767-2357 (recorded message) with any questions relating to the Maryland wage laws. Other employment related questions will be answered if possible, or referred to the appropriate authority. Listed below is a quick reference guide to sources of information on various subject areas involving employment.

1.   Employment Discrimination — Maryland Commission on Human Relations, (410) 767-8600 or (800) 637-MCHR, or Equal Employment Opportunity Commission at (410) 962-3932.

2.   Minimum Wage and Overtime — U.S. Department of Labor, Wage and Hour Division, (410) 962-4984.

3.   Retirement Benefits (including 401(k) and ERISA) — U.S. Department of Labor, Employee Benefits Security Administration, (202) 219-8776.

4.   Health Care Benefits After Termination of Employment (COBRA) — U.S. Department of Labor, Employee Benefits Security Administration, (202) 219-8776. If less than 20 employees, Maryland Insurance Administration, (410) 468-2000.

5.   State Scaled or “Prevailing” Wage (State funded construction contract wage questions) — Maryland Division of Labor and Industry, Prevailing Wage Unit, (410) 767-2342.

6.   Federal Scaled or “Prevailing” Wage (Federally funded construction contract wage questions under the Davis-Bacon Act) — U.S. Department of Labor, Wage and Hour Division, (410) 962-4984.

7.   Federal Service Contracts (Federally funded non-construction contract wage questions under the Federal Service Contract Act) — U.S. Department of Labor, Wage and Hour Division, (410) 962-4984.

8.    Unemployment Insurance Benefits — Claimants: calling from Baltimore area – (410) 949 – 0022, (410) 767 – 2727 TTY; calling from Maryland but outside the Baltimore area – 1 – 800 – 827 – 4839, 1 – 800 – 827 – 4400 TTY

Employers: (410) 767-2412, 1-800- 492-5524

9.   Workers’ Compensation (for work related injuries and illnesses) — Maryland Workers’ Compensation Commission, (410) 864-5100. [Note: It is the independent responsibility of an injured worker to obtain a workers compensation claim form and file it within a certain time after injury. Employers are not required to provide this service to employees. It is the responsibility of employers to file a First Report of Injury. This is different than an employee’s claim for workers compensation].

10.  Immigration Verification for Employment, I-9 Requirements — U.S. Department of Labor, Wage and Hour Division, (410) 962-4984, or U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service, (800) 357-2099. To file a complaint of national origin discrimination, citizenship discrimination or document abuse in filling out the I-9 or when seeking employment, U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Special Counsel, (800) 255-7688.

11.  Unions and Collective Bargaining Agreements — National Labor Relations Board, (410) 962-2822.

12.  Severance Pay — U.S. Department of Labor, Employee Benefits Security Administration, (202) 219-8776.

13.  Occupational Safety and Health — Maryland Occupational Safety and Health (MOSH), (410) 767-7233.

14.  Displaced Workers and Reductions in Force (WARN Act) — Maryland Dislocated Workers Unit, (410) 767-2803.

15.  Child Labor — Maryland Division of Labor and Industry, (410) 767-2228.

16.  Family and Medical Leave — U.S. Department of Labor, (410) 962-4984.

17.  New Hire Reporting – Maryland New Hire Registry, (410) 281-6000.


The following is a list of various agencies and units of Maryland State Government which are concerned with some area of labor and employment, and the publications and postings which are required for employers by law. Employers should note, however, that other governmental units — federal, state or local — may require the posting of other documents not listed here.

Division of Labor and Industry
(410) 767-2357 (recorded message)

Employment law information and wage investigations.

Required publications/posters for employers: 1. Wage and Hour Fact Sheet. 2. Equal Pay For Equal Work. 3. Employment of Minors Fact Sheet


Workers’ Compensation Commission
(410) 864-5100

Provides a system of wage and health care protection for eligible workers who have suffered work-related injury or illness.

Required Publications/Posters For Employers: 1. First Report of Injury (form to be filed by employer upon notice of an injury), 2. Workers’ Compensation Poster


Division of Unemployment Insurance
calling from Baltimore area –(410) 949 – 0022, (410) 767 – 2727 TTY;

calling from Maryland but outside the Baltimore area –1 – 800 – 827 – 4839, 1 – 800 – 827 – 4400 TTY

Employers:(410) 767-2412, 1-800- 492-5524

Provides a system of wage protection for eligible unemployed workers through collection and administration of unemployment insurance tax contributions from employers.

Required Publications/Posters For Employers: Health Insurance Coverage, To Employees (unemployment benefits eligibility)


Maryland Commission on Human Relations
(800) 637-6247, 767-8600

Provides education on and enforces Maryland law prohibiting discrimination based on age, ancestry, color, family/marital status, disability, national origin, race, religion and sex in employment, public accommodations, housing and licensing.

Required Publications/Posters For Employers: Employment Discrimination is Illegal

Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
(410) 962-3932


Maryland Occupational Safety and Health (MOSH)
(410) 880-4970 x348

Ensures a safe and healthful work environment for Maryland workers through inspections, consultation and trainings.

Required Publications/Posters For Employers: 1. MOSH Poster (for employees) 2. Recordkeeping: Injuries and Illnesses Forms, OSHA 200

Return to the Labor and Industry home page

Please direct any questions about the Division of Labor and Industry to
Questions or comments regarding the DLLR website may be directed to

Updated November 16, 2007

  1. Very well written post. It will be helpful to anyone who employess it, as well as yours truly :). Keep up the good work – i will definitely read more posts.

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