We know these last few months have been difficult and that you may have been unable to take deserved time away from work during the ongoing pandemic. Please know that your efforts to provide critical services to Maine people, especially during these trying times, is deeply appreciated. With gratitude for your efforts and in support of your health and well-being, we are pleased to announce that the Mills Administration has collaborated with the workers’ unions on a number of employee enhancement provisions for next year.
All of the below enhancements of leave time are for the 2021 calendar year and apply to both bargaining unit employees and confidential employees, including appointees. Contact HR with questions.
Recognizing that detaching from work to rest and recharge during the pandemic hasn’t always been possible, even though we encourage it, this provision is offered in gratitude for the many State employees who have been unable to take time off while shouldering their increased workload during the COVID-19 pandemic.
All State employees will be able to carry-over all unused vacation time from 2020 into 2021, even if vacation time exceeds the typical maximum accrual limit.
On January 1, 2022, the maximum accrual limits will be reinstated and all accrued vacation leave over the typical maximum accrual limit will be removed from employees’ leave balances.
Employees leaving their position during 2021 will be paid only for the typical maximum accrual limit. Per usual, if an employee leaves State service and has used more than they earned, the difference will be deducted from the employee’s final paycheck.
Employees leaving a position in one State agency for a position in another cannot be paid for or transfer more than the typical maximum accrual limit, nor can they receive any combination of pay or transferred leave that exceeds the typical maximum accrual limit.
Employees will continue to earn vacation time as they currently do (e.g. for bargaining unit employees, this is on a biweekly accrual basis based upon hours worked and for others this is a preload).
As you know, State work rules require that you “Wait!” and don’t leave your home if you feel sick. This is so important in our fight against COVID-19. To that end, for 2021, all State employees will receive their sick leave “up front” (rather than earning sick leave on a bi-weekly basis) in case you need to use it. Please, we urge you, use your sick time to stay home if you are feeling unwell.
In January 2021, agencies will advance to each employee the sick leave the employee is scheduled to earn during 2021.
Such sick leave can be used pursuant to current terms. In addition, sick leave can be used if it is necessary for the employee to care for the employee’s child whose school or daycare is closed or childcare is unavailable due to COVID-19. Sick leave can be used if necessary for the employee to quarantine due to COVID-19 (unless the quarantine is a result of out-of-state travel not required by work).
An employee who leaves State service during 2021 will have the unearned portion (that portion of sick leave that the employee would not yet have been credited with but for this change) of the employee’s sick leave balance removed from the employee’s ending sick leave balance. We will manually adjust balances for those who leave to be sure their balances are correct (in case they come back within four years and are allowed to reinstate sick leave balances). If an employee leaves State service and has used more than they earned, the difference will be deducted from the employee’s final paycheck.
In recognition of the hardships caused by COVID-19, Governor Mills is launching COVIDcare for eligible State employees in 2021.
COVIDcare administrative leave is modeled on the Federal FFCRA program, currently set to expire on December 30, 2020.
Eligible State employees may use up to 80 hours of paid COVIDcare administrative leave during the 2021 calendar year. COVIDcare administrative leave may be used: if quarantining or isolating as a result of COVID-19 (unless the quarantine is a result of out-of-state travel not required by work). In addition, for employees not previously identified as exempt from the FFCRA, the administrative leave may also be used when caring for someone with COVID-19, or for COVID-19 related childcare issues.
The criteria for which employees are eligible is the same as outlined by FFCRA, which includes most State employees (not to include health care providers and emergency responders), regardless of how long an employee has been employed, when the employee is unable to work or telework for one of the qualifying reasons related to COVID-19.
Qualifying reasons for COVIDcare include: If quarantining or isolating as a result of COVID-19 (unless the quarantine is a result of out-of-state travel not required by work), and, for those not identified as exempt from the FFCRA, when caring for someone with COVID-19, or for COVID-19 related childcare issues.
Fulltime employees are eligible for the 80 hours of paid COVIDcare administration leave; part-time employees are eligible for a lesser amount.
Should the Federal government re-up the FFCRA program or another similar program for 2021, any or all portions of this COVIDcare offering can be replaced with an equal Federal offering and would not be an addition to a Federal paid leave program.
The Mills Administration will continue to allow employees to use their sick time or other paid leave time if experiencing childcare issues due to COVID-19. Please coordinate with your supervisor and HR.
For bargaining unit employees: The “add a step/drop a step” compensation revisions previously negotiated for bargaining unit employees will be processed next month per contractual obligations, with the improved hourly rates effective as of January 3, 2021.
For minimum wage employees: A Federal minimum wage increase goes into effect on January 1, 2021 and this “add a step/drop a step” upward adjustment will be calculated on top of that as of January 3, 2021.
For confidential employees: Confidential employees will receive the same “add a step/drop a step” adjustment, also effective on January 3, 2021.
Appointees will not receive this raise as originally planned.
In general, storm delays or cancelations are meant to keep people off the roads to allow our public safety personnel to do their jobs and keep us all safe.
In inclement weather, any storm delay or cancelations for State employees will be announced via the Citizen Alert System (sign up today!), the State weather announcement line at (207)624-7546, or local TV and radio stations. Absent a commute, teleworkers are expected to work even in the event of a storm delay or cancelation; please plan ahead for this!
Connect with your supervisor ASAP to understand work options if you lose power and/or internet at home:
identify work that can be done without power and/or internet;
charge all mobile devices to tend to emails, join meetings, etc.;
request vacation and/or comp time in anticipation of power and/or internet loss, which may be approved based on operational need; and/or
ask if there is the ability to work at office/another location/conference room without exceeding safety capacity limits.