Maine Enacts Paid Leave Law Effective 1/1/2021

Maine’s governor signed into law An Act Authorizing Earned Employee Leave, which makes Maine the first state to require employers to provide paid leave for any reason.

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June 03, 2019

Last week, Maine’s governor signed into law An Act Authorizing Earned Employee Leave, which makes Maine the first state to require employers to provide paid leave for any reason. Below are details that will be relevant to employers.

Earned Employee Leave

Under Maine’s new paid leave law:

  • Effective date: Maine’s paid leave law is effective January 1, 2021. However, for collectively bargained employees, the law does not take effect until the relevant collective bargaining agreement expires, if later.
  • Length of leave: Employees will be entitled to earn 1 hour of paid leave for every 40 hours worked, up to 40 hours per year. Accrual begins at the start of employment. The law does not require carryover of unused leave.
  • Amount of pay: Eligible employees are entitled to at least the same base rate of pay that they received immediately before taking earned leave and the same benefits as those provided under the employer’s established policies.
  • Employers: This law applies to any employer with more than 10 employees for more than 120 days in any calendar year but does not apply to any employers in seasonal industries. Employers are not required to permit use of accrued paid leave until an employee works for 120 days.
  • Types of leave: Paid leave is not limited to any specific purpose(s). Therefore, an employee will be able to use accrued leave for any reason (illness, family, vacation, etc.).
  • Preemption: This law preempts local authority, which means that local governments in Maine will not be permitted to enact their own paid leave laws.

Maine’s Department of Labor will adopt rules to implement and enforce the above provisions.

Next Steps

We recommend that employers with employees in Maine:

  • Review current leave policies determine whether changes to leave accruals or other benefit policies are necessary;
  • Work with HR, payroll, and any third-party vendors to determine what steps, if any, are needed to comply by 2021; and
  • Stay up to date on implementing guidance from Maine. We will update our members on new developments.

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