Any Maine company with more than 10 employees must now offer earned paid leave. That’s the premise of a new state policy signed into law by Maine Governor Janet Mills on Tuesday.
An employee at one of the affected businesses will now earn one hour of paid leave for every 40 hours worked for a single employer, after they’ve worked there 120 days.
Seasonal business are excluded, which helped win bipartisan support for the law, which is unique compared to ten or so other state with similar regulations because it does not require the employee to miss work for an illness.
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“The carve out of seasonal employers were two specific areas that we had to find common ground,” said Sen. Rebecca Millett, who represents Maine District 29 and spearheaded the law during its creation and compromise.
Millett says the law’s ability to preempt municipalities that wanted to enact their own paid sick time ordinances also won it support.
Some leaders in Portland had pushed for their own paid sick time ordinance despite opposition from major businesses like MaineHealth, one of the state’s largest employers.
The healthcare network testified openly against the Portland plan because it took away flexibility from MaineHealth’s existing paid time off plan that its employees supported.
But MaineHealth supported the statewide effort in the legislature saying it has more leeway than Portland’s proposal.
“We offer competitive benefits and operate in a national and almost international recruitment world so we need to be able to provide the benefits that employees across the nation and even the globe are looking for,” said Katie Fullham Harris, MaineHealth’s senior vice president of government relations.
Maine businesses will have a period of time to adapt to the new law before the Department of Labor enforces it.
The new policy does not go into effect until 90 days after Maine’s 2019 legislative session ends.