Another Round of COVID-Related Employment Law Updates – Caregivers

April 22, 2020

  • Employment leaves for caregivers and persons affected by extreme public health emergency

There is a Maine law which may apply to employees who need leave related to COVID, particularly where the new paid leave provisions may not apply.  This section requires an employer to grant “reasonable and necessary leave” from work, with or without pay, for the following reasons related to an extreme public health emergency:

  1. The employee is unable to work because the employee is under individual public health investigation, supervision or treatment related to an extreme public health emergency;
  2. The employee is unable to work because the employee is acting in accordance with an extreme public health emergency order;
  3. The employee is unable to work because the employee is in quarantine or isolation or is subject to a control measure in accordance with extreme public health emergency information or directions issued to the public, a part of the public or one or more individuals;
  4. The employee is unable to work because of a direction given by the employee’s employer in response to a concern of the employer that the employee may expose other individuals in the workplace to the extreme public health emergency threat; or
  5. The employee is unable to work because the employee is needed to provide care or assistance to one or more of the following individuals: the employee’s spouse or domestic partner as defined under Title 18-C, section 1-201, subsection 14; the employee’s parent; or the employee’s child or child for whom the employee is the legal guardian.

There are a few exceptions to the leave requirement, including if the employer would sustain undue hardship from the employee’s absence, including the need to downsize for legitimate reasons related to the impact of the extreme public health emergency on the operation of the business;  the request for leave is not communicated to the employer within a reasonable time under the circumstances; or the employee is a state, county or municipal employee whose responsibilities are related to services necessary for protecting the public’s health and safety in an extreme public health emergency if the employer requires the employee to work (with some exceptions).

The leave must be permitted for the duration of the extreme public health emergency “and for a reasonable and necessary time period following the termination of the extreme public health emergency for diseases or conditions that are contracted or exposures that occurred during the extreme public health emergency.”

An employer may require written documentation from a physician or public health official supporting the employee’s leave.

This information is accurate as of April 22, 2020, and is subject to change based on any new legislation.

Anne-Marie L. Storey, Attorney at Law, Rudman Winchell
Anne-Marie Storey, Esq
Rudman Winchell
207-947-4501