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Maine Becomes the First State to Mandate Paid Leave for Any Reason

On May 28, 2019, Governor Janet Mills signed L.D. 369, making Maine the first state to require that private employers provide earned paid leave—not just sick leave—to employees.

The bill, “An Act Authorizing Earned Employee Leave,” requires private employers that employ 10 or more employees for more than 120 days in a calendar year to provide 1 hour of paid leave for every 40 hours worked, up to a maximum of 40 hours of paid leave per year. The new law will take effect on January 1, 2021.

The law permits eligible employees to use the paid leave for any reason. Employees can start accruing leave on their first day of work but cannot use the leave until after 120 days of employment.

L.D. 369 exempts seasonal businesses, employers of employees covered by a collective bargaining agreement, employers that hire workers for fewer than 120 days, and employers with fewer than 10 employees.

When signing the bill, Governor Mills said the law would cover about 85 percent of Maine’s workforce while exempting more than 40,000 of the state’s 50,792 businesses.

Employers impacted by this change may want to reevaluate their current leave policies to ensure compliance with the new law. When doing so, employers may want to note these key provisions:

  • If an employee takes earned leave, the employer must pay the employee at the same pay rate the employee received immediately prior to taking earned leave. The employer must also provide “the same benefits as those provided under established policies of the employer pertaining to other types of paid leave.”
  • If an employee takes earned paid leave, it should not affect his or her right to receive health benefits “on the same terms and conditions as applicable to similarly situated employees.”
  • Employers that fail to comply with the law can be liable for up to $1,000 per violation.
© 2020, Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C., All Rights Reserved.National Law Review, Volume IX, Number 150

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About this Author

Steven Silver, Ogletree, labor and employment lawyer
Associate

Steven Silver is an associate in the Portland, Maine office of Ogletree Deakins. Steve focuses his practice on ERISA and long-term disability matters as well as sports law. Steve joins Ogletree Deakins from the Portland office of a regional multi-service firm where he litigated numerous ERISA matters and advised clients on various sports law issues including trademarks for a hockey stick manufacturer, compliance for a skins gaming website, and contract negotiation for a sports league management software startup. Prior to moving to Maine, Steve practiced in Philadelphia where he defended...

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