Maine Motor Transport Association has received numerous calls from members regarding the new Earned Paid Leave (EPL) law that became effective on January 1, 2021 specific to their trucking operations. It is important to note that the new law does not impact employers with 10 or fewer employees or those with a collective bargaining agreement in place as of January 1, 2021.
Employers with more than 10 employees are now required to grant employees 1 hour of paid time off for every 40 hours worked, up to 40 hours in a defined year. Employees may use the paid time off for any reason, but may be required to give up to 4 weeks advance notice to use the paid leave, except for an emergency, illness, or sudden necessity.
Employers who already offer paid time off, such as vacation or sick leave, may convert their current policy regarding leave to “paid time off” to cover the requirements of this law, as long as the leave is accrued at the rate of at least 1 hour for every 40 hours worked.
Employers may apply a 120 day wait period before allowing employees to use the earned paid time off, and must track the hours worked by employees. In order to avoid detailed tracking for salaried or for employees paid bonuses or commissions, the employer may also opt to simply grant the 40 hours paid time off up front.
Maine DOL has published a full overview of the law as well as detailed FAQ’s in this link: https://www.maine.gov/labor/labor_laws/earnedpaidleave/
For members with only an INTRASTATE operation and or pay by the hour, calculating the rate of pay and determining application of the paid time off law is clear.
MMTA contacted Maine DOL to inquire about INTERSTATE drivers who are paid other than on an hourly basis to determine if the new law applied, and if so how the employer would calculate the rate of pay. Our interpretation of their response is that if the employee is covered by Maine law for unemployment insurance, the paid time off law would also apply to them. The 4-prong test provided by Maine DOL to determine unemployment compensation can be found by clicking on this hyperlink and should be reviewed for each employee:
When EPL is granted, MDOL told us that the rate of pay to be used is calculated by determining the pay for the week preceding the paid time off and dividing the total earnings by the total hours worked. This would be the base pay to be used for that particular paid time off. This rate must equal or exceed minimum wage or the minimum wage would apply.
Disclaimer: This article is written based on MMTA’s interpretation of the paid time off law and information provided by Maine DOL. Members are encouraged to seek specific legal advice from a qualified attorney if you have questions regarding the law. You can also contact the Maine Department of Labor directly with your specific question(s) through their online form: https://www.maine.gov/labor/contact/index.html