You can view the current draft of the ordinance in its entirety in two forms:
- The redline copy, which highlights the changes the committee made to the originally proposed ordinance; and
- The clean copy, which shows the current draft without reference to the original language.
To help you wade through the changes, I've provided a section by section guide below. I've also written a quick rundown of what the ordinance does—and what it doesn't do—in a separate blog post.
Personally, I still anticipate a few changes at the committee level before we make a recommendation to the full council. What we hear during the upcoming public hearing—and read in the comments that continue to pour in via email, and learn from continued conversations with people with varying viewpoints—will certainly impact our final revisions.
So please, take a look at all of the information, see what you think, and come tell us on January 8th.
- Section 1: Definitions
- Section 2: Accrual of Earned Paid Sick Time
- Section 3: Use of Earned Paid Sick Time
- Section 4: Procedures for Taking Earned Paid Sick Time
- Section 5: Exercises of Rights Protected; Retaliation Prohibited
- Section 6: Notice of Rights
- Section 7: Recordkeeping Requirements
- Section 8: Enforcement
- Sections 9-13: No Significant Changes
- Section 14: Effective Date
We also made two changes to the definition of "Employee."
The first change stipulates that an employee must work at least 60 hours in a calendar year in order to be eligible for EPSL as mandated in the ordinance.
The second change exempts some per diem workers from the ordinance. The only per diem workers exempted in this draft are those who satisfy ALL of the following conditions:
- They are licensed by Title 32, Chapters 31, 97, or 103 of the Maine Revised Statutes;
- They are employed in a "health care facility" as defined in MRS Title 22, Section 328;
- They are under no obligation to work a regular schedule;
- They only work when they indicate they can and aren't obligated to work at other times; AND
- They receive higher pay than another employee at the same health care facility performing the same work.
Finally, we made one change to the definition of "Employer." In order to give start-ups a grace period before they are required to provide earned paid sick leave to their employees, we added language exempting new businesses for one year from the date of hire of their first employee. (Employer, incidentally, is defined in this ordinance the same way that it is defined in Portland's Minimum Wage Ordinance.)
- Track all hours worked and award 1 hour of EPSL for every 30 hours worked. (This amounts to a .033 accrual rate, which is pretty easy to institute if you have an HR department or a payroll company that can simply plug the accrual rate into an algorithm to track it for you.)
- Award all of the hours up front at the beginning of each employee or calendar year. This eliminates tracking altogether, but some employers may prefer to have employees accrue EPSL over time instead of front-loading it.
- Award EPSL monthly in lump sums at the end of each month according to the chart we created and inserted into the ordinance in Section 2(a)3.
Employees can still only take a maximum of 48 hours of EPSL per benefit year, and for employers with 10 or fewer employees, only the first 24 of those 48 accrued hours must be paid.
Employers can still request documentation from a health care provider if an employee is out for more than 24 consecutively scheduled work hours, but if the employee does not have health insurance, the form we created can be used by the employee instead.
The original language required EPSL numbers to appear on every paystub, which could prove onerous for employers without HR departments or an outside company handling their payroll.
We also made it clear that companies that don't track sick time separately from other paid time off don't need to change their recordkeeping methods. This goes back to the provision in Section 2 stating that employers who are already meeting the mandates of this ordinance don't need to change the way they're doing things.
Also, because the City of Portland does not have a Department of Labor to investigate and prosecute claims, the committee made changes to clarify the City of Portland's role in enforcement.
Here's how enforcement works in the current draft.
While the city still has the authority and the ability to investigate claims and institute fines that would be paid to the City (i.e., $100 per violation per day), the city is not obligated to do so in every instance. Similarly, employees with grievances are no longer required to go through the city in order to file a court claim. They can take their case directly to court through a private right of action.
When employees do bring their grievances to the city, which is definitely an option, a representative of the city will reach out to the employer in question and make sure the employer understands the requirements of the EPSL ordinance. The city representative can attempt to mediate a resolution between the employer and the employee, but if they are unable to do so, they can instead write a letter explaining their findings and their view as to whether or not the ordinance has been violated. This letter can then be provided to the employee and employer for use in the private right of action if necessary.
In most other places where EPSL ordinances have been enacted, there has been a delayed implementation ranging from 180 days to one year or longer. Some communities have staggered their implementation, putting the ordinance into place for businesses of a certain size first and working their way down to smaller businesses over time. Other communities have begun by requiring businesses to offer a certain number of EPSL hours in the first year, building up to the target number in the second or third year of implementation.
The committee will talk about all of these options and determine the effective date of the ordinance once we are ready to make a recommendation to the Council.