The statewide sessions bring comments from businesses and workers
For the past two months, the Maine Department of Labor has been holding listening sessions around the state for the purposes of collecting information and comments from both business owners and employees concerning Maine’s new “paid time off” (PTO) law, which was passed by the legislature this past session and signed into law by the governor. The listening sessions are in advance of rulemaking that the department is tasked with undertaking in 2020. The rules will form the backbone of the law and fill in many of the details purposely left out in statute. The listening sessions and rulemaking are in anticipation of the law becoming “live” for any business with more than 10 employees in 2021.
As indicated earlier, the new law comes from legislation submitted this past session in the form of LD 369, An Act Authorizing Earned Employee Leave, sponsored by Sen. Rebecca Millett (D-Cumberland). The final version of the bill varied fairly dramatically from the original version, thanks to the work of both republicans, democrats, and the Governor herself. As enacted, the law will:
Since the bill went from more than 13 pages to a page and a half, much of the specific details concerning implementation were left to the Maine DOL to devise through the rulemaking process. In an effort of achieve statewide input, the department began in November 2019 to conduct listening sessions in which employers and employees were invited to attend and proved them with questions, comments, and input concerning the logistics of how the bill should work, and its impact on the workplace for both affected parties. To date, listening sessions have been held in Presque Isle, Bangor, Machias, Augusta, Farmington, Portland, Lewiston, Rockland and Springvale. In Augusta, one specific session has been held for employers, and one for employees.
The department has taken the position during these sessions that they will only answer questions concerning the new law that are clearly spelled out in statute. All other questions or comments have been put in queue for the rulemaking process, which is scheduled, according the department officials, to start in April with a public comment period of 30 days. Rulemaking is expected to be completed by the fall of 2020. Among the most frequently asked questions by employers at the sessions were:
These were just a few of the hundreds of questions that have come up at these sessions during the past two months. Peter Gore, executive vice president at the Maine State Chamber, has attended all but one of the statewide sessions and will continue to follow this extremely important issue for all Maine employers as the rulemaking process continues its progress. For additional information or questions, please contact Peter Gore by calling (207) 623-4568, ext. 107, or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.