July 22, 2019

July 19, 2019

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New Maine Law Requires Employers to Provide Employees Paid Leave to Use for ‘Any Reason’

Maine Governor Janet Mills has signed into law “An Act Authorizing Earned Employee Leave,” the first law in the nation to allow employees to use mandated paid leave for any reason. The new law, signed on May 28, will take effect on January 1, 2021. Approximately 85 percent of Maine’s private sector employees will receive paid leave under the new law.

The law requires Maine employers with at least 10 employees who work more than 120 hours in a calendar year, other than seasonal workers, to provide one hour of paid leave for every 40 hours an employee works. An employee can earn up to 40 hours of paid leave annually.

The law does not apply to an employee subject to a collective bargaining agreement during the period between January 1, 2021, and the expiration of the agreement.

Employees will begin accruing earned pay leave at the start of employment and are eligible to use the accrued paid leave after 120 days of employment. Employees are required to provide “reasonable notice” of the intent to take leave, absent an emergency or other sudden necessity. However, the law does not define what constitutes reasonable notice, although it provides that “use of leave must be scheduled to prevent undue hardship on the employer.”

During the paid leave, an employee must be paid the same base rate of pay earned prior to taking leave and receive the same benefits as provided to other types of paid leave pursuant to the employer’s “established” policies. The taking of paid leave may not result in the loss of any accrued employee benefits.

Employers who violate the law will be subject to penalties of up to $1,000 per violation.

The Maine Department of Labor has been tasked with adopting rules for the implementation and enforcement of the law, which should provide more clarity for employers. While employers await the pending rules, they should be prepared to update their paid leave policies to comply with the new law.

Jackson Lewis P.C. © 2019

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About this Author

Debra Weiss Ford, Jackson Lewis, force reductions lawyer, termination issues attorney
Office Managing Principal and Office Litigation Manager

Debra Weiss Ford is Office Managing Principal and Litigation Manager of the Portsmouth, New Hampshire, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. She has over 30 years of experience representing employers in litigation matters before the state and federal courts and administrative agencies.

Ms. Ford also represents employers before the New Hampshire Commission for Human Rights, the Maine Human Rights Commission, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the New Hampshire Department of Labor, and the Massachusetts Commission Against...

(603) 559-2700
K. Joshua Scott, Jackson Lewis, Labor Litigation Lawyer, sexual orientation discrimination attorney
Associate

Joshua Scott is an Associate in the Portsmouth, New Hampshire, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. His practice covers all aspects of employment litigation, including state and federal claims and matters before administrative agencies such as the New Hampshire Commission for Human Rights, the New Hampshire Department of Labor, the Maine Human Rights Commission and the Equal Opportunity Commission.

Mr. Scott practices in both state and federal court and has handled cases involving claims of race, age, disability, sexual orientation and sex discrimination, as well as sexual harassment, retaliatory discharge, non-compete/ restrictive covenant issues and medical leaves.

603-559-2711