General Earned Paid Leave FAQ's

The Bureau has compiled lists of frequently asked questions and answers from the Earned Paid Leave listening sessions held in the Fall of 2019, public comments received on the proposed Rules, public webinar sessions in 2020, stakeholder meetings, and conversations among the Maine Department of Labor staff.

The following information is general guidance based on hypothetical scenarios. It is not legal advice on any specific situation.

Individual cases must be analyzed and decided by the Bureau of Labor Standards (BLS).

Click on any of the drop downs listed below to view the general FAQs listed.

Using Earned Paid Leave and Notice Requirements

Answer:  No. The employer must allow the employee to use the leave after 120 calendar days of employment regardless of the number of days or hours actually worked during the period.

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.

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 the use of Earned Paid Leave before this period has been served but may choose to do so.

Answer: No. The employer can require up to 4 weeks’ notice for use of leave other than 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 recommend that employers create a written policy and clearly communicate restrictions to avoid any misunderstandings.

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. A written policy outlining dates that planned employee leave is restricted due to operational needs is one of the best ways to ensure compliance with this piece of the Earned Paid Leave law.

Answer: Undue hardship is defined in the Rules as: A significant impact on the operation of the business or significant expenses, considering the financial resources of the employer, the size of the workforce, and the nature of the industry. This language is a summation of an already existing definition of “undue hardship” currently used in our Rules Governing Employment Leave for Victims of Violence.

The law permits employers to require 4 weeks of notice for planned employee absence, as well as restrict planned leave for specific times of the year where employee absence would cause undue hardship to their business.

A written policy outlining when planned leave is restricted for use, as well as how much notice employees are required to give is the best method to ensure that a business is in compliance with this part of the Earned Paid Leave law.

Answer: If an employee has accrued Earned Paid Leave, an employer may require that leave be used if the employee takes a planned absence, or if the employee is out due to an emergency, illness, or sudden necessity. The employer cannot require an employee to use EPL when the employer tells the employee not to work, such as a furlough day.

Answer: The employer can require the use of Earned Paid Leave in one-hour increments. An employer may choose to allow the use of Earned Paid Leave in smaller increments. Please note that an employer cannot require the use of Earned Paid Leave in larger increments

Answer: Generally, 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.