Under the recently passed Families First Coronavirus Response Act (the Families First Act), which went into effect on April 1, 2020 and expires December 31, 2020, any government employer or employer with fewer than 500 employees is required to immediately provide 10 days of emergency paid sick leave to its employees. This leave is in addition to your existing leave entitlements under your employer’s leave policies, and your employer cannot count leave that you received before April 1, 2020 toward this requirement. Employers with fewer than 50 employees may be able to obtain a waiver from the Department of Labor relieving them from having to provide sick leave under the Act, and employers of employees who are healthcare providers or emergency responders may be able to opt out of the law.
If the Families First Act applies to your employer and you are a full-time employee, you are entitled to 80 hours of leave. If you are a part-time employee, you are entitled to the average number of hours you work in a two-week period. You are eligible for this paid sick leave if you are unable to work and:
- You are complying with a recommendation from a healthcare provider to self-quarantine or self-isolate
- You are complying with a federal, state, or local quarantine or isolation order
- You are seeking a diagnosis or care for COVID-19 symptoms
- You are caring for an individual who quarantined or self-isolated due to a healthcare provider recommendation or government order
- You are caring for a child whose school or place of care has been closed or childcare provider is unavailable due to coronavirus.
During your sick leave, your employer is required to pay you 100% of your regular pay, but capped at:
- $511 per day ($5,110 in the aggregate) when you are caring for yourself
- $200 per day ($2,000 in the aggregate) when you are caring for others
The law also prohibits your employer from firing you or otherwise retaliating against you for taking this leave.
The U.S. Department of Labor has a detailed list of questions and answers about the leave provisions of the Families First Act here. If you are unable to do your usual job because you contracted COVID-19 during the regular course of your work, you may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits, including temporary disability payments and medical treatment. The Southern Maine Workers’ Center’s WORK Manual provides a basic overview of the Maine workers’ compensation system and key workers’ comp deadlines at page 62. Importantly, you need to tell your employer that you were injured within 60 days of the injury in order to make a workers’ compensation claim. More information about what to do and how to file a claim can be found on the Workers’ Compensation Board website here.
DISCLAIMER: This FAQ Sheet is intended to provide accurate, general background information regarding legal rights relating to employment in Maine. It is not legal advice. Because laws and legal procedures are subject to differing interpretations and frequent change, particularly in an emergency, the authors cannot ensure the information is current or be responsible for how the information is used. Do not rely on this information without consulting an attorney or the appropriate agency about your rights in your particular situation.