HR Policy Lends Employer Voice to Senate Paid Family Leave Working Group

May 31, 2019

As Maine ratified a first-of-its-kind law granting paid leave for any reason, HR Policy applauded the formation of a bipartisan Senate Paid Leave Working Group and urged that any federal solution create uniform, nationwide standards that work for both companies and workers.

In a letter to the working group, HR Policy noted that large employers have long recognized the value of paid family leave benefits and observed that the patchwork of state and local laws "create a formidable challenge for large companies trying to administer consistent benefits for all their employees, regardless of where they work . . . Beyond the administrative costs imposed by having to fashion multiple systems of paid leave benefits, large companies with multiple operations at dispersed locations can be frustrated in their ability to build a common culture.”

The main point of the letter—uniformity:  “Normally, businesses are against ‘one size fits all’ solutions, but in this case uniformity in how paid leave benefits are required to be administered should be an integral component of any federal solution.”

Meanwhile, Maine Governor Janet Mills (D) signed the nation’s first law requiring employers to grant up to 40 hours of paid leave per year for any purpose.

The law requires employers to grant employees with one hour of paid leave per 40 hours worked, or up to 40 hours per year.  There are no provisions within the law for carryover of unused time into the next year.

Helpful provisions for employers:  Employees may be required to provide “reasonable notice” prior to using the benefit, though the term is not defined within the law.  Meanwhile, use of the leave must be scheduled “to prevent undue hardship on the employer as reasonably determined by the employer.”  The Maine law also preempts local paid leave measures, a feature that gained strong support from the business community.

Stay tuned for more developments at the state and local levels as the conversation continues to percolate nationwide.  To learn more, read the Association’s recent white paper on state and local paid sick leave mandates.