Maine Leave Law: No Reason Required
June 6, 2019 | Lizanne Foley
Maine just became the first state to require paid leave for ANY REASON. Should I be concerned about our current practices and policies?
Our advice to Maine private sector employers that employ ten (10) or more employees is to reevaluate their current leave policies to insure compliance with the new law. When doing so, those employers should take note of these key provisions:
- Maine’s law is the first to allow employees to use earned paid leave for any purpose. Therefore, in assessing whether current paid time off complies with the new law, employers should look to their vacation and personal time policies and practices;
- Employees must accrue paid leave at the rate of one hour of paid leave for every 40 hours worked, up to 40 hours per year;
- Although employees will begin to accrue leave at the start of employment, employers are not required to permit use of such leave before the employee has been employed for 120 days during a one-year period;
- Employees are required to give “reasonable notice” of their intention to use the leave although the term “reasonable notice” is not further defined in the law;
- The Act contains exceptions for employers covered by a Collective Bargaining Agreement during the period between January 1, 2021 and the expiration of the current Collective Bargaining Agreement;
- If an employee takes the earned paid leave, the employer must pay the employee at the same pay rate the employee received immediately prior to taking the earned leave;
- If an employee takes earned paid leave, it should not affect her/his right to receive health benefits “on the same terms and conditions as applicable to similarly situated employees.”
In general terms, many current vacation and personal leave policies and practices will meet the statutory criteria for the 40 hours of paid time off and many others will require relatively minor modification in order to step into compliance. This law, unlike many of the earned sick leave laws that are going into effect throughout the country, will not place much of a burden on employers.
Please contact us if you have any questions. We can help.
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