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.

Other Questions

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.

Answer: For an existing policy to be in compliance with the Earned Paid Leave law, the existing policy must allow an employee to use up to 40 hours of paid leave per year for any reason. A leave policy must have the following characteristics to be in compliance:

Up to 40 hours of paid leave are available for use per year;

Leave may be taken for any reason;
(Example: An existing leave policy that only provides 20 hours of sick time and 20 hours of vacation time per year does not meet the requirements of the Earned Paid Leave law because the employee must be allowed to use up to 40 hours of accrued Earned Paid Leave for either sick or vacation, or a combination thereof.)

No more than 4 weeks of notice are required for a planned employee absence; The employee may take the leave, with only the amount of notice feasible under the circumstances, in the event of an emergency, illness, or sudden necessity;
(Example: Employee is allowed to take the leave when a daycare provider is ill, and the employee notifies the employer when the employee first learns of the babysitter’s unavailability, such leave will count toward the 40 hours required).

Leave can be used for emergency, illness, or sudden necessity even when a policy restricts scheduling leave during certain times to prevent undue hardship to the business.
(Example: a retailer may not allow vacation time to be taken on Black Friday, but an employee may take Earned Paid Leave during that time to care for a sick family member.)

+40 Hours of Leave Provided

If an employer provides more than 40 hours of leave to full-time employees, only 40 hours of leave needs to meet the characteristics of the Earned Paid Leave law.
(Example: The employer may allow 40 hours of leave for any reason but allow additional time that may only be used with advance notice
(i.e. vacation time.)

The first 40 hours of leave available each year must be paid at the employee’s base rate of pay as defined in the Rules.

Answer:  Yes. Employers can have separate policies for the different types of leave they offer.  The Earned Paid Leave policy should explain what the notice requirements will be for employees intending to use their accrued Earned Paid Leave as well as what will happen to any unused balance when employment ends. 

If an employer does not have a policy for Earned Paid Leave but has a policy regarding unused vacation time, then the policy on unused vacation time will apply to the unused Earned Paid Leave. In all cases, if the unused balance of Earned Paid Leave is not paid out when employment ends, based on the employer’s policy and practice, then the employer will need to make the unused/unpaid balance of leave available to the employee if the employee returns to work with that employer within a one-year period.

Answer: The Maine Department of Labor cannot give guidance on federal laws. We can only advise if a certain action will violate Maine law.  In this case, an employer will not violate the Earned Paid Leave law if they require an employee to use their accrued Earned Paid Leave if that employee is going to be out of work in accordance with Maine’s Family Medical Leave or Maine’s Family Sick Leave statutes.

Interpretations of federal statutes should be directed to the USDOL Wage & Hour Division at 1-866-487-9243.

Answer: The requirement is met by downloading and posting the Bureau of Labor Standard’s “Regulation of Employment” poster with a revision date no older than 10/2020.

If all employees are working remotely, a business can meet this requirement by making this poster available for all employees to view on the business’s intranet. However, if any employee is working in a physical location, this and all other required posters must also be physically displayed where employees can see it.

Please note that this poster is also available in Arabic, French, Haitian Creole, Khmer, Kinyarwanda, Portuguese, Somali, and Spanish. The posters displayed at the worksite should be in the primary language(s) of your employees.