Healthy Workplaces and Healthy Families Bill up for Review
Lawmakers in Maine are scheduled to review a new mandatory sick leave bill that would provide both paid and unpaid sick leave to workers throughout the states. The proposed law, An Act to Support Healthy Workplaces and Healthy Families by Providing Paid Sick Leave to Certain Employees, is scheduled to be reviewed this year.
Overview of the Maine Sick Leave Bill
The bill would award sick leave to employees at the rate of 1 hour for every 30 hours worked. Employers who have 50 or more employees would be required to provide paid sick leave, while employers with less than 50 employees would have to provide unpaid sick leave. Employees would be able to earn up to 40 hours, or 5 days of sick leave each year.
The proposed sick leave law would allow employees to take time off for diagnosis, care, including preventative care, or treatment of a health condition. It would also allow time off in cases of domestic abuse, sexual assault, or stalking.
Correlating with Existing Sick Leave and FMLA State Laws
Although Maine currently has laws around sick leave and family medical leave, the new law would require businesses to set additional funds aside for specific sick leave days.
Additionally, many businesses would need to upgrade their payroll systems and to start timekeeping for all of their employees. Additional reports and notices would have to be rolled out to employees on a regular basis, and more administrative costs would have to be budgeted for in order to comply with the law.
Exception: Employees Covered by a Collective Bargaining Agreement
The only two exceptions to the proposed bill are for Union employees and Family member employees. Some proponents of Maine’s pending sick leave bill are pushing for the law to be revised in order to include employees that are covered by a collective bargaining agreement, or a union.
However, these advocates fail to realize that Federal Laws already cover Collective Bargaining Agreements.
The National Labor Relations Act already requires sick leave to be negotiated during the write up of those agreements. States that mandate sick leave for Union employees are placing union contracts under state scrutiny and violating other Federal laws.
If sick leave is failed to be negotiated by the Union and the State mandates sick leave, then the law is likely to be found illegal, as happened to a 2012 Hawaiian bill in 2014. States simply, do not have the power to override Federal Law.
Maine is among several states considering Sick Leave. Hawaii and Michigan are also looking at proposed sick leave bills, while the Maryland House and Senate just approved a new sick leave bill to start in 2018.
Additionally, several states are facing the issue of allowing local sick leave laws to stand or to preempt them on a statewide level. Already 14 states have already preempted local sick leave laws. Minneapolis’s local laws are up for debate in Federal Court with Minnesota looking at a preemptive bill. Pennsylvania lawmakers are also looking at a preemptive bill that would negate Philadelphia’s and Pittsburgh’s local sick leave laws.
For now, Maine employers should keep a close eye on the legislative sessions in order to ensure that they will have enough time to comply and prepare for the bill, should it pass.
Written by Annemaria Duran. Last updated April 11, 2017
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