Maine blazes workplace trail with earned paid leave requirement
In March of 2019, Maine became the first state in the nation to adopt an earned paid leave law, meaning that for every 40 hours worked, an employee banks one hour of earned paid leave, up to a total of 40 per year. These earned leave hours can be used for any reason - vacation, illness, injury, or an unforeseen necessity. Preti Flaherty's Laura Rideout discusses how employers can integrate the new requirement into an existing leave policy.
Companies that already offer 40 hours or more per year in sick or vacation leave may still need to make changes, she said. About half opted to make the leave available immediately rather than wait for employees to accrue their hours.
“If it’s a business where there are a lot of year-end deadlines, or things get kind of crazy at year end,” Rideout said, “then front-loading it may lead to employees using the leave on a more even basis throughout the year as opposed to everybody trying to take leave at the end of the year.”
Employers are allowed reasonable restrictions on the use of scheduled leave, she said, but they are prohibited from denying its use unless it would create an undue hardship, “which means a significant operational impact or expense."