The Maine legislature recently passed An Act Authorizing Earned Employee Leave. If Governor Mills, who has been vocal in her support of the bill, signs the bill into law, it would take effect on January 1, 2021.

The bill would require Maine employers with 10 or more employees working for more than 120 hours in the calendar year to provide one hour of paid leave for every 40 hours an employee works, up to a maximum of 40 hours paid leave annually.

Employees will begin accruing earned leave at the start of employment and will be eligible to use the accrued paid leave after 120 days of employment. Unlike other states with paid leave laws, the use of paid leave in Maine will not be limited to sick leave and employees could use the paid leave for any reason. The bill requires that employees provide “reasonable notice” of the intent to take leave, absent an emergency, illness, or other sudden necessity, but it does not define what constitutes reasonable notice, though “use of leave must be scheduled to prevent undue hardship on the employer.”

Employees taking paid leave are paid at their same base rate of pay and receive the “same benefits as those provided under established policies of the employer pertaining to other types of paid leave.” Employers who violate the law will be subject to penalties of up to $1,000 per violation.