Earned Paid Leave

On January 1st, 2021 Maine’s Earned Paid Leave law becomes effective (Public Law 2019 Ch. 156, "An Act Authorizing Earned Employee Leave"). https://legislature.maine.gov/legis/bills/getPDF.asp?paper=SP0110&item=4&snum=129

It is a legal requirement for all employers to post Maine’s Regulation of Employment poster in all workplaces. This poster was recently updated to include information on Maine’s Earned Paid Leave law. To download this updated version from our website, please click the link below.

Regulation of Employment Poster - rev 09/20 (PDF)

  • Effective 1/1/2021. 
  • Includes all industries except for seasonal industries as defined by 26 M.R.S. sub-section 1251 for employers with more than 10 employees in Maine for more than 120 days in any calendar year.  (See definition of Employer in 26 M.R.S. sub-section 1043 sec. 9.)
  • Includes all employees: full-time, part-time, temporary, per diem, etc. 
  • Employees covered by collective bargaining agreements (CBAs) as of 1/1/2021 are excluded until the CBA expires. New CBAs after that date must include this benefit at a minimum.  
  • Employees accrue 1 hour of Earned Paid Leave for every 40 hours worked, up to 40 hours in a defined year.
  • Employees can bargain for, or employers can offer, a benefit of this nature that exceeds this standard. 
  • Employers may use their discretion to frontload Earned Paid Leave at the beginning of the year.
  • Employers that allow employees to use Earned Paid Leave before it is accrued may withhold from the last paycheck any amount that the employee had not yet accrued
  • Employees can carry over up to 40 hours from one defined year to the next.  
  • Employees can use up to 40 hours in any defined year.  
  • Employees that are deemed Salaried Exempt are presumed to work 40 hours per week unless there is an actual record of time worked. 
  • Employers can apply a 120-day wait period before new employees can use their accrued Earned Paid Leave.  
  • Employees can use their accrued Earned Paid Leave for any reason such as an emergency, illness, sudden necessity, planned vacation, etc.  
  • Employees may be required to give up to 4 weeks advance notice to use earned paid leave for any reason other than an emergency, illness, or sudden necessity.
  • Employees are required to notify employers as soon as practicable if the use of Earned Paid Leave is for an emergency, illness, or sudden necessity.

  • Employee Question: Am I eligible for this benefit?
    Answer: If you work for an employer who has more than 10 employees in Maine and you are not under a collective bargaining agreement as of 1/1/2021, you may be eligible for this benefit.
  • Employee Question: I work for an employer with multiple business locations. There are fewer than 10 employees in my location. Does the employer have to provide this benefit?
    Answer: If the employer has more than 10 employees across every location in Maine, they are required to provide this benefit.
  • Employee Question: What happens if I leave work with an unused balance of Earned Paid Leave?
    Answer: You may lose it unless the employer has a policy on unpaid vacation time. If so, the same policy for vacation time will apply to any balance of Earned Paid Leave. In all cases, if the employer does not compensate you for the unused balance of Earned Paid Leave, they will need to make the leave available to you if you return to work within a year.
  • Employee Question: Does the employer always have to give me time off?
    Answer: No. The employer can require up to 4 weeks’ notice for use of leave other than for an emergency, illness, or other sudden necessity and can restrict dates that such time off may be granted. For instance, they might restrict or not allow leave (other than leave for an emergency, illness, or other sudden necessity) during a holiday season, or other busy seasons or days. We would recommend that employers clearly communicate restrictions to avoid any misunderstandings
  • Employee Question: I was 15 minutes late for my shift (I needed only a half-hour for an appointment), and the employer refused to let me use less than one hour of Earned Paid Leave.
    Answer: The employer can require the use of Earned Paid Leave in one-hour increments.
  • Employee Question: Can an employer discipline me for using Earned Paid Leave?
    Answer: No. However, they can do so if you exceed the amount of leave you have available, or otherwise do not comply with the employer’s notice requirements.
  • Employee Question: I have been working for my employer for a full year before January 1st, 2021. When can I start using my leave?
    Answer: 120 days of employment may be considered to have occurred during the one-year period before the Earned Paid Leave law goes into effect. An employee who has been employed by their employer for at least 120 days before the law goes into effect on January 1, 2021, may use their leave as soon as it is earned.
  • Employee Question: I started working for my employer on November 1st, 2020. When can I start using my leave?
    Answer: An employer must permit the use of Earned Paid Leave after 120 days of employment. An employee who begins work on November 1st, 2020, would be eligible to use accrued leave after March 1st, 2021. An employer is not required to permit use of Earned Paid Leave before this period has been served but may choose to do so.
  • Employer Question: How is the poster requirement of the Earned Paid Leave law met?
    Answer: The requirement is met by downloading and posting the Bureau of Labor Standard’s recently updated poster at this link.  Regulation of Employment Poster - rev 09/20 (PDF)
  • Employer Question: I want to avoid multiple workers using leave at the same time. How can I best do that and stay within the law?
    Answer: You may want to consider identifying times of the year, month, or week that leave may be restricted due to operational needs, other than leave for an emergency, illness, or sudden necessity. Employers must be able to prove undue hardship if they deny the use of leave for any reason.
  • Employer Question: Does the year of employment and defined year have to coincide with the calendar year?
    Answer: No. It can be the same period for all employees or the anniversary date of each employee as long as the choice does not adversely impact the other requirements of the law.

  • Final Responses to Public Comments on Earned Paid Leave (PDF)
  • The Poster - Regulation of Employment Poster - rev 09/20 (PDF)
  • The Law (Web Page)
  • The Rules (PDF)
  • Detailed Frequently Asked Questions (PDF)