With paid sick leave programs on the rise, more and more states are establishing new laws for employers. One state that has taken its law to the next level is Maine. The Maine paid sick leave law boasts something that no other state can: paid leave for any reason.
Read on to learn all about the Maine paid sick leave law, including which employees are eligible and how much leave employees can earn and use.
Brief recap of paid sick leave
Paid sick leave is paid time off an employee can take if they or a family member are sick. Currently, there is no federal sick leave law. However, there are a number of states that have adopted their own paid sick leave laws. Some states with paid sick leave include Arizona, California, and Colorado.
As mentioned, with Maine’s law, “An Act Authorizing Earned Employee Leave,” employees can take paid leave for reasons other than sick time.
If you live in a state with paid sick leave, you need to know your state’s requirements. Paid sick leave laws by state specify information like accrued time off rates, accrual limits, and which employers must follow the law.
Maine paid sick leave law
So, what sets Maine apart from the other states with paid sick leave?
Maine’s Earned Paid Leave law is the first of its kind. It’s the only law in the nation that allows employees to use mandated paid leave for any reason. This includes leave for personal, family, or medical reasons.
The law was signed on May 28, 2019. If you’re a Maine employer, you need to know the whos, whats, whens, wheres, and whys of the law. Take a look at some questions and answers below to start learning more about Maine’s paid leave law.
When did the law go into effect?
Maine’s law began on January 1, 2021.
Who must participate?
Maine employers with at least 10 employees who work more than 120 hours in a calendar year must provide paid leave.
Seasonal employees are not eligible for Maine paid sick leave. The law also does not apply to employees with collective bargaining agreements.
Who is exempt?
Small businesses with fewer than 10 employees do not have to provide paid leave to employees. Again, seasonal employers are also not required to participate.
How much paid leave can an employee accrue?
Employees can earn one hour of paid leave for every 40 hours worked. An employee can earn up to 40 hours of paid leave annually.
Employers have the freedom to provide more generous benefits than those mandated by state law.
When can employees begin accruing paid leave?
Employees begin accruing paid leave at the start of employment. And, employees are eligible to use accrued paid leave after 120 days of employment.
Employees are required to provide “reasonable notice” of their intent to take leave (except in the case of emergencies or unpredicted events or illnesses). The law does not yet define what is considered a reasonable notice. However, the law states, “use of leave must be scheduled to prevent undue hardship on the employer.”
How much can an employee receive during leave?
Employers must pay employees their regular wages during paid leave.
Employers must also maintain employees’ benefits (e.g., health insurance) for employees on leave. Employees cannot lose accrued employee benefits if they take paid leave.
Can employees carry over accrued time?
Employees can carry over up to 40 hours to the next year.
What are the penalties for not being compliant?
Employers who violate the law will be subject to penalties of up to $1,000 per violation.
You can contact the state for more information.
Where can I find more information?
You can learn more about Maine’s Earned Paid Leave by checking out the Department of Labor’s FAQs.
This article has been updated from its original publication date of September 11, 2019.This is not intended as legal advice; for more information, please click here.