By Eric J. Uhl / May 30, 2019

On May 28, 2019, Governor Janet Mills signed into law An Act Authorizing Earned Employee Leave. Under the new law, Maine employers who employ more than 10 employees for more than 120 days in a calendar year must provide employees with one hour of paid leave for every 40 hours the employees work, up to a maximum of 40 hours of paid leave annually. The new law excludes employment in a seasonal industry, which means an industry in which it is customary to operate only during a regularly recurring period of fewer than 26 weeks in a calendar year.

Employees will begin to accrue paid leave time at the start of employment, but an employer is not required to permit use of the accrued paid leave until after an employee has been employed for 120 days. Employees may use the earned paid leave time for any reason, including but not limited to their own illness, a family member’s illness, recreation, or any other personal reason.
An employee who wants to use earned paid leave time must provide his or her supervisor with “reasonable notice” of the intent to take leave, absent an emergency, illness, or other sudden necessity.

Employers must pay an employee who takes earned paid leave time at least at the same base rate of pay that the employee received immediately prior to taking the paid leave time. Employers also must provide the same benefits as the benefits provided by the employer’s established policies for other types of paid leave.

The new law specifically prohibits municipalities from enacting an ordinance regulating the use of earned paid leave time.

You may need to revise or update your paid leave policies to comply with this new law. Maine employers have some time to review their existing leave policies and prepare to implement the new law, which does not go into effect until January 1, 2021. Please contact us if you need assistance in making sure you are in compliance with this new paid leave law.

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