EMPLOYMENT LAW NEWS

Maine Paid Leave Goes Into Effect in 2021

By Kris Janisch
Published Nov. 30, 2020

Maine Paid Leave Goes Into Effect Jan. 1, 2021

In one of the more unique types of leave laws, Maine allows employees to take paid leave for any reason.

Following its spring 2019 passage, Maine’s paid leave law goes into effect Jan. 1, 2021.

Maine is one of three jurisdictions with a unique aspect to its leave law — employees can use paid leave for any reason. Bernalillo County, N.M., and Nevada also have paid leave that can be used for any reason.

While employers may not have to worry about deciphering the “covered reasons for use” under paid leave in Maine, there are many aspects of the law to be considered before it goes into effect at the start of 2021.

It requires an updated labor law poster.

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Maine Paid Leave Law

Expected to impact 85 percent of workers in Maine, the paid leave law applies to employers with more than 10 workers (seasonal excluded) employed for more than 120 days any calendar year.

Below are some of the items regarding Maine’s paid leave law that employers need to know.

Accrual Rate

  • One hour for every 40 hours worked
  • Maximum annual accrual: 40 hours
  • Accrual begins at start of employment

Payment Rate

  • Employee must be paid the same base pay rate received immediately prior to taking leave
  • Workers must also receive the same benefits (per employer policy) pertaining to other types of paid leave

Notice Requirements

  • Employer: At time of employment, employer provides paid time off request instructions
  • Employee: When use of time off is foreseeable, employee should provide reasonable notice to employer

Maine Paid Leave: Guidance

Maine officials have issued guidance for employers regarding its paid leave law.

A few notes from the state include:

  • Other than an emergency, illness or other “sudden necessity,” employers may have a policy that requires up to four weeks of notice for an employee’s intent to use paid leave.
  • Employers can limit scheduling of earned paid leave (outside emergencies) so as to not place an undue hardship on the business. That can mean significant impacts to expenses or a reduced workforce, depending on employer size.
  • Employees can use paid leave in increments of at least an hour, unless the company opts for a smaller amount.
  • Employers can’t require workers to use paid leave through business closures or shift cancellations.

What Employers Need to Know About Paid Leave

Paid Leave Laws

Even when discounting the spate of new laws sparked by the COVID-19 pandemic, paid leave laws have been more prevalent in recent years.

Employers should take note of their passage and look ahead to implementation dates and potential changes to policies and procedures.

It’s also worth noting that each jurisdiction works on its own timeline. Nevada, for example, passed its paid leave law after Maine, but it went into effect a full year earlier. Elsewhere, Colorado passed a 2020 ballot initiative regarding paid family and medical leave. Employees there can’t start using benefits until 2024.

This patchwork of laws makes tracking and applying paid leave challenging. Employers should audit jurisdictions where they have locations ahead of 2021 in order to remain complaint.

Conclusion

With Maine’s paid leave law going into effect Jan. 1, 2021, it will be interesting to see if other jurisdictions keep an eye on how its implementation unfolds.

These laws sometimes create a situation in which jurisdictions try to “one-up” each other. With the COVID-19 pandemic making paid leave laws even more prevalent in the public square, more lax paid leave laws, in terms of employee use, could be on the horizon.

This Employment Law News blog is intended for market awareness only, it is not to be used for legal advice or counsel.

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