Processing Your Payment

Please do not leave this page until complete. This can take a few moments.

Updated: November 17, 2020

How to comply with Maine's new paid leave law: a guide for employers

Fittingly, "Vacationland" is among a small contingent of states that have a paid leave law on the books. Maine, however, is unusual in that paid leave under the new law can be used for any purpose, including emergency, illness, birth of a child, sudden necessity, planned vacation, etc.  

Portrait of Laura Rideout
Courtesy / Preti Flaherty
Laura A. Rideout of Preti Flaherty is a member of the law firm's employment law and litigation practice group.

The law was passed in 2019 and goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2021.

It applies across industries (except seasonal industries) to all employers in the state with more than 10 employees for more than 120 days in any calendar year. It also applies to all employees, whether full-time, part-time, temporary or per diem. 
While many Maine employers already offer a paid leave benefit to employees, it will be necessary to audit existing policies and practices to make sure that they are in line with the new requirements. Other employers that currently do not offer any type of paid leave will need to develop a brand-new policy or protocol to ensure compliance. 
This high-level overview is designed to serve as a helpful checklist so that Maine employers can ensure that they have policies and procedures in place to comply with the new paid leave law.

What you need to know

Accrual: Under the new law, employees accrue one hour of “earned paid leave” for every 40 hours worked, up to 40 hours in a defined year. This is a minimum requirement and employees can bargain for, or employers can offer, a more generous benefit. Employees are entitled to start using this leave once they have been employed for 120 days, but employers can allow employees to access paid leave sooner, if desired. Employers can also choose to front-load earned paid leave so that it is available to employees at the beginning of the year.  

Notice: Employers can require employees to give up to four weeks of advance notice to use earned paid leave  for any reason other than an emergency, illness, or sudden necessity. Employers can also place reasonable limits on scheduling of leave to prevent undue hardship. It is helpful to evaluate operational needs and outline when there may be restrictions on an employee’s ability to take earned paid leave. In case of emergency, illness or sudden necessity, employees must provide notice as soon as practicable under the circumstances. Employers must be able to prove undue hardship (significant operational impact or expense) if requested earned paid leave is denied.
Time increments: Employers may require use of earned paid leave in at least one-hour increments or can choose to allow employees to use leave in smaller time increments. 
Rollover: Employees can carry over up to 40 hours of earned paid leave from one year to the next, but the maximum amount of earned paid leave available in any year under the statute does not exceed 40  hours. 
Separation: Employers that allow front-loading of earned paid leave can withhold from the last paycheck any amount of leave that was used but that had not yet accrued. Employers are not required to pay out the unused balance of  earned paid leave when an employee separates unless that practice exists related to another existing policy (i.e., vacation time). If earned paid leave is not paid out at separation and the employee returns to work within the same year, the employee must be allowed to use any accrued but unused earned paid leave.
Posters: Download and post the most current Bureau of Labor Standards’ “Regulation of Employment.”
Collective bargaining: The law does not apply to employees covered by a collective bargaining agreement during the period between Jan. 1, 2021, and when the agreement expires. 
There are additional nuances that may apply to your business or workforce. Consult the Maine Department of Labor regulations and guidance for more information.

Laura A. Rideout is an associate at Preti Flaherty in Portland who advises employers on workplace and workforce issues. She is a member of the firm's employment law and litigation practice group and can be reached at

Sign up for Enews

Related Content


Order a PDF