Know Your Rights

Knowledge is power! As you navigate caring for yourself and your loved ones while earning a paycheck, a combination of federal, state, and local workplace laws can help ensure you are free from discrimination and have the time and support you need.

This state-by-state guide is organized into five tabs based on the situations that may be prompting you to seek information about your legal rights. Many of the laws we address overlap and can be used for different purposes, and are therefore discussed under more than one tab.

Maine

When you are sick—be it with a bad cold or more serious illness or injury—you may need time off from work to rest and heal. Federal, state, and local laws may give you time off when you need it and protect you from employment discrimination.

Maine recently passed a paid family and medical leave law, which will begin providing benefits on May 1, 2026. For more information, click here.

Taking Time Off from Work

There are several laws that provide time off that may help you care for your own health/medical needs, depending on whether your needs are short-term or long-term. 

Paid Time Off

A paid time off law typically provides short-term time off, often in increments of hours or days. Paid time off can be used for any purpose, including for when you or your family are sick.

If you work for an employer in Maine with 11 or more employees, Maine’s Earned Paid Leave law may give you the right to earn and use paid time off.

    • Under this law, you can earn one hour of paid time off for every 40 hours you work.
    • Your employer can limit you to using a maximum of 40 hours of earned paid leave per year.
    • Your employer can require you to be employed for 120 days before allowing use of earned paid leave.
    • You can use earned paid time off without providing a reason to your employer for such use. This can include time off due to an illness, injury, sickness, etc.
    • Absent an emergency, illness or other sudden necessity for taking earned paid time off, an employee must give “reasonable notice” to their supervisor. Use of leave must be scheduled to prevent undue hardship on the employer as reasonably determined by the employer.
    • To learn more about the law, see here.
Unpaid Family & Medical Leave

Unpaid family and medical leave laws typically provide time off from work that allows you to keep your job but your time away from work may not be paid. Generally, if you are eligible for both paid family and medical leave and unpaid family and medical leave, you often have to take those at the same time but there may be exceptions. 

If you are covered, the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) allows you to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid time off of work per year to address your own serious health needs (including pregnancy), bond with a new child, care for a seriously ill or injured family member, or address certain military family needs—without losing your job (or your health insurance, if you have it).

  • Only about half of all private sector workers in the U.S. are covered by the law. You must: 1) work for the government or a company with 50 or more employees within 75 miles of your worksite; and 2) have worked with your employer for at least 1 year; and 3) have worked at least 1,250 hours in the year before taking leave.
  • If you are covered, you can use the 12 weeks to care for your own serious medical needs, including those related to pregnancy and recovery from childbirth. You may also take the leave on an intermittent basis or may work on a reduced schedule.
  • While you are on leave, if you receive health insurance through your employer, you have the right to keep your health insurance benefits.
  • When you return to work, you have the right to return to the same or a very similar job, unless you fall into a narrow exception.
  • If you have accrued paid leave from your employer, you may choose to use that paid time off concurrently with your FMLA time. Your employer can also require you to use your paid leave—including paid vacation, personal, or sick days—while you are taking FMLA leave.
  • For more information about the Family and Medical Leave Act, see here.

Maine has a law that is very similar to the FMLA but covers a few more workers—the Maine Family and Medical Leave Act (MFMLA).

  • You are covered if: 1) your workplace has 15 or more employees (fewer than the FMLA’s requirement of 50 employees) and 2) you have been employed there at least 1 year (unlike the FMLA, it does not matter how many hours you have worked in the past year).
  • If you are covered, you can take up to 10 weeks of unpaid leave every two years.
  • You can use this leave for the birth or adoption of a child, your own serious illness, or the serious illness of a family member.
Other Laws that May Provide Paid Benefits
  • If you were hurt while working or became sick as a result of your job, you may also be entitled to paid benefits and other protections through Workers’ Compensation.
  • If you lose your job due to your own medical needs, and are able to continue working, you may still be able to get Unemployment Insurance. For more information about how to apply, consult your state’s website. You may also want to consult with an attorney if you have questions about your eligibility.

Reasonable Accommodations and Anti-Discrimination Laws

  • The Maine Human Rights Act bans disability discrimination at all workplaces regardless of size. Should your disability require some changes to your position, your boss must provide you with a reasonable accommodation so that you can perform your job, unless it would be very difficult or expensive for them to do so. A reasonable accommodation can include anything from changes to your workspace to modifying your work schedule to restructuring your job. 
  • The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires employers in the U.S. with 15 or more employees to provide reasonable accommodations to workers with disabilities and makes it illegal for employers to discriminate against workers with disabilities. Disability is defined as a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, which can include caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, seeing, hearing, eating, sleeping, walking, standing, lifting, bending, speaking, breathing, learning, reading, concentrating, thinking, communicating, and working. This means:
    • Your boss cannot fire you, refuse to give you a promotion, or harass you because you have a disability.
    • If you have a disability, your boss cannot refuse to give you small changes at work that you need to stay healthy, like breaks to take medication, temporary relief from heavy lifting, or a stool to sit on during your shift. These changes are called “reasonable accommodations” and are available as long as you can still complete the basic duties of your job with those changes. Your boss does not have to give you an accommodation that would be very difficult or expensive, like building a whole new office.

Please note that each of these laws often covers certain categories of employees, but may not cover all types of employees. For example, special rules often apply to government employees. Additionally, different laws may have different standards to determine which health needs qualify for coverage. And, in many cases, more than one law may apply to your situation. If you have a question about whether you are covered under any of the laws mentioned, contact A Better Balance at 1-833-NEED-ABB.

When a child or family member gets sick or injured—be it with a bad cold or a more serious illness or injury—you may need to take some time off from work to care for them. Federal, state, and local laws may give you time off when you need it and protect you from employment discrimination.

Maine recently passed a paid family and medical leave law, which will begin providing benefits on May 1, 2026. For more information, click here.

Taking Time Off from Work

Paid Time Off

A paid time off law typically provides short-term time off, often in increments of hours or days. Paid time off can be used for any purpose, including for when you or your family are sick.

If you work for an employer in Maine with 11 or more employees, Maine’s Earned Paid Leave law may give you the right to earn and use paid time off.

    • Under this law, you can earn one hour of paid time off for every 40 hours you work.
    • Your employer can limit you to using a maximum of 40 hours of earned paid leave per year.
    • Your employer can require you to be employed for 120 days before allowing use of earned paid leave.
    • You can use earned paid time off without providing a reason to your employer for such use. This can include time off due to an illness, injury, sickness, etc.
    • Absent an emergency, illness or other sudden necessity for taking earned paid time off, an employee must give “reasonable notice” to their supervisor. Use of leave must be scheduled to prevent undue hardship on the employer as reasonably determined by the employer.
    • To learn more about the law, see here.

Under Maine law, if your workplace has 25 or more employees, you have the right to use any sick time, vacation time, and comp time that your employer gives you to care for an immediate family member who is sick.

Unpaid Family & Medical Leave

Unpaid family and medical leave laws typically provide time off from work that allows you to keep your job but your time away from work may not be paid. Generally, if you are eligible for both paid family and medical leave and unpaid family and medical leave, you often have to take those at the same time but there may be exceptions. 

If you are covered, the FMLA allows you to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid time off of work per year to address your own serious health needs (including pregnancy), bond with a new child, care for a seriously ill or injured family member, or address certain military family needs—without losing your job (or your health insurance, if you have it).

    • Only about half of all private sector workers in the U.S. are covered by the law. To qualify, you must: 1) work for the government or a company with 50 or more employees within 75 miles of your worksite; and 2) have worked with your employer for at least 1 year ;and 3) have worked at least 1,250 hours in the year before taking leave.
    • If you are covered, you can use the 12 weeks to care for a seriously ill family member. Under the FMLA, covered family members include a worker’s son or daughter under the age of 18 (or an adult child unable to care for him or herself due to a physical or mental disability), a spouse, and a parent.
    • The FMLA defines “son or daughter” to include a biological, adopted, or foster child, a stepchild, a legal ward, or a child of a person standing in loco parentis. For more information about protections the FMLA provides for LGBT families, see here.
    • You may also take the leave on an intermittent basis or you may work on a reduced schedule to care for a seriously ill family member.
    • While you are on leave, if you receive health insurance through your employer, you have the right to keep your health insurance benefits.
    • When you return to work, you have the right to return to the same or a very similar job, unless you fall into a narrow exception.
    • If you have accrued paid leave from your employer, you may choose to use that paid time off concurrently with your FMLA time. Your employer can also require you to use your paid leave—including paid vacation, personal, or sick days—while you are taking FMLA leave. For more information about the Family and Medical Leave Act, see here.

Maine has a law that is very similar to the FMLA but covers a few more workers—the Maine Family and Medical Leave Act (MFMLA).

    • You are covered if: 1) your workplace has 15 or more employees (fewer than the FMLA’s requirement of 50 employees) and 2) you have been employed there at least 1 year (unlike the FMLA, it does not matter how many hours you have worked in the past year).
    • If you are covered, you can take up to 10 weeks of unpaid leave every two years.
    • You can use this leave for the birth or adoption of a child, your own serious illness, or the serious illness of a family member. Unlike the FMLA, you can take the leave to care for a sibling, domestic partner, or grandchild (in addition to a spouse, parent, or child).
    • You can also take this leave if you have a family member who dies or incurs a serious health condition while on active military duty.
Other Laws that May Provide Benefits
  • If you lose your job because you have family caregiving responsibilities, you may still be able to apply for Unemployment Insurance. For more information about how to apply, consult your state’s website. You may also want to consult with an attorney if you have questions about your eligibility.

Special Protections for Veterans’ and Military Families

Unpaid Family & Medical Leave

Unpaid family and medical leave laws typically provide time off from work that allows you to keep your job but your time away from work may not be paid. Generally, if you are eligible for both paid family and medical leave and unpaid family and medical leave, you often have to take those at the same time but there may be exceptions. 

If you are covered by the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), and a close family member is, or was, in the Armed Services, you may be entitled to additional protections under the FMLA.

    • The FMLA provides special protections for service-connected injuries or illnesses. If you are the spouse, parent, son, daughter, or next-of-kin of a veteran or a member of the Armed Services, including the National Guard and Reserves, you may be able to take military caregiver leave. You can take up to a total of 26 weeks of unpaid leave a year to take care of your military relative if he or she has a serious injury or illness stemming from his or her military service.
    • In addition to the ordinary protections under the Family and Medical Leave Act, if you have a parent, child, or spouse on or called to active duty service in a foreign country, you may be eligible for what is called “qualifying exigency” leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act to address certain needs arising out of that active duty service. This leave allows you to take up to a total of 12 weeks of unpaid leave a year.
      • This leave is available to address many different types of needs, including:
        • tending to the needs of the children of a service member, such as arranging childcare, attending meetings, or enrolling the child in a new school
        • making legal or financial arrangements for a military member
        • spending time with a servicemember on a short-term rest and recuperation leave
        • arranging care for the parent of a servicemember when the parent is unable to care for himself or herself.

If you are covered by the Maine Family and Medical Leave Act (MFMLA), you have the right to take up to 10 weeks of unpaid leave every two years if you have a family member who dies or incurs a serious health condition while on active military duty. You are covered if: 1) your workplace has 15 or more employees, and 2) you have been employed there for at least 1 year.

    • If you are the spouse, domestic partner, or parent of a person who is a resident of Maine and is deployed for military services for more than 180 days, you may have additional rights to unpaid leave under Maine’s Family Military Leave

Anti-Discrimination Laws

  • Familial status discrimination is illegal under the Maine Human Rights Act. If you work for an employer of any size, your employer cannot discriminate against you because you are either 1) part of a family unit that includes one or more children under the age of 18 who are living with a parent, legal guardian, or parent or guardian’s designee; or 2) part of a family unit that includes one or more individuals over the age of 18 who are unable to meet their own requirements for physical health, safety, or self-care because they are unable to receive or evaluate information or make decisions; or 3) pregnant; or 4) in the process of securing legal custody of a child under the age of 18.
  • Some workers in Maine may have additional protection from caregiver discrimination under local laws.
    • The cities of Bangor and Orono have outlawed employment discrimination based on family status. Please note, it’s possible that additional cities may have passed caregiver discrimination laws.
  • The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) bans unfair treatment of workers based on their relationship with a person with a disability. For example, your boss can’t cut your hours because they think you can’t work as hard because you have a child with asthma. Or your boss cannot assume that you will cost more on the company’s health insurance plan because your family member is seriously ill.  However, this law does not give relatives of a person with a disability the right to accommodations, such as a schedule change, to help them provide care.

Please note that each of these laws often covers certain categories of employees, but may not cover all types of employees. For example, special rules often apply to government employees. Additionally, different laws may have different standards to determine which health needs qualify for coverage. And, in many cases, more than one law may apply to your situation. If you have a question about whether you are covered under any of the laws mentioned, contact A Better Balance at 1-833-NEED-ABB.

 

Maine recently passed a paid family and medical leave law, which will begin providing benefits on May 1, 2026. For more information, click here.

Staying healthy at work while you are pregnant is sometimes challenging: you may be dealing with morning sickness, back pain, or doctor’s appointments every few weeks. For women who have experienced a miscarriage, you may need time off for recovery. U.S., Maine, and local laws can help you stay healthy at work, give you time off when you need it, and protect you from pregnancy discrimination.

Pregnancy Discrimination 

  • The Pregnancy Discrimination Act makes it illegal for any employer in the U.S. with 15 or more workers to treat employees unfairly because they are pregnant, trying to get pregnant, or have experienced pregnancy loss. That means:
    • Your boss can’t fire you or cut your hours when they find out that you’re pregnant or trying to get pregnant. You also have the right to be free from harassment at work because you are pregnant.
    • If your employer asks you about your pregnancy or plans to have children in a job interview, that may be evidence of pregnancy discrimination.
    • Your employer can’t treat you differently from other workers just because you are pregnant or have experienced pregnancy loss.
  • The Maine Human Rights Act also bans discrimination based on pregnancy and medical conditions which can result from pregnancy. It covers all employers, regardless of size.

Workplace Accommodations

If you need changes at work to stay healthy on the job, the laws below can help. In addition, click the green button to learn more and request an accommodation if you need one.

  • If you are working and pregnant, recovering from childbirth, pumping milk, or have a related medical condition, the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act can help you protect your health and the health of your pregnancy, without losing your job.
    • Under the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, a nationwide law, most workers have a right to “reasonable accommodations,” or temporary changes at work. You do not need to have a disability or pregnancy complication to be eligible for an accommodation. Examples of “Reasonable accommodations” can include:
      • Flexible scheduling for prenatal or postnatal appointments
      • Additional, longer, or more flexible breaks to drink water, eat, rest, or use the bathroom
      • Light duty, or help with manual labor and lifting
      • Temporary transfer to a less physically demanding or safer position
      • Limiting exposure to hazardous chemicals
      • Access to a water bottle or food
      • Leave or time off to recover from childbirth, even if you don’t qualify for the FMLA
      • Leave or time off for bedrest, recovery from miscarriage, postpartum depression, mastitis, and other pregnancy-related health issues
      • Providing equipment such as a stool to sit on
      • Changing a uniform or dress code, like allowing wearing maternity pants
      • Changing a work schedule, like allowing shorter work hours or a later start time to accommodate morning sickness
      • Breaks, private space (not in a bathroom), and other accommodations for lactation needs, like adding a lock to a meeting room for private breast milk expression
      • Remote work or telework
  • Under the Maine Act to Protect Pregnant Workers, no matter the size of your employer, if you need a “reasonable accommodation” because of your pregnancy or childbirth, your employer has to give it to you unless it would be really difficult or expensive (an “undue hardship”). This means:
    • Your boss can’t fire you because you asked for a chair to sit on or light duty while you are pregnant—they have to give you what you need to stay healthy at work, unless your employer can show that it would seriously harm the business.
    • Examples of accommodations explicitly covered by the law include providing more frequent or longer breaks; temporary modification in work schedules, seating, or equipment; temporary relief from lifting requirements; temporary transfer to less strenuous or hazardous work; and provisions for lactation.
    • For more information about your rights under this law, see here.
  • Maine law also states that employers cannot treat pregnant workers “in a different manner from other employees who are not able to work because of other disabilities or illnesses.” According to the Maine Human Rights Commission, this means that if your employer generally permits accommodations for other impaired workers, they have to accommodate pregnant workers equally.

Taking Time Off from Work 

Paid Time Off

A paid time off law typically provides short-term time off, often in increments of hours or days. Paid time off can be used for any purpose, including for when you or your family are sick.

  • If you are covered under Maine’s Earned Paid Leave law, you may be able to use your accrued paid time off for medical needs while pregnant, e.g., for a prenatal appointment. For more information on this law, see the “Caring for Your Own Medical Needs” tab.

Unpaid Leave

Unpaid family and medical leave laws typically provide time off from work that allows you to keep your job but your time away from work may not be paid. Generally, if you are eligible for both paid family and medical leave and unpaid family and medical leave, you often have to take those at the same time but there may be exceptions. 

  • If you are covered by the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), you have the right to take time off during pregnancy or after experiencing a miscarriage without losing your job. You may have similar rights under the Maine Family and Medical Leave Act (MFMLA). See the “Time Off for Childbirth and Bonding” section under the next tab for more information on these laws and see this guide to your workplace rights around miscarriage.
  • The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act may provide you with unpaid time off from work as a reasonable accommodation for a limitation related to your pregnancy or a related medical condition. For example, if you need time off for morning sickness, prenatal appointments, or bed rest, then the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act can help. Note that under the federal law, your employer may not push you onto unpaid leave if another reasonable accommodation (like a transfer) would allow you to keep working. See below for information about how the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act applies to childbirth.
  • The Maine Act to Protect Pregnant Workers (see above) may also give you the right to unpaid, job-protected time off work as a “reasonable accommodation.”

Please note that each of these laws often covers certain categories of employees, but may not cover all types of employees. For example, special rules often apply to government employees. Additionally, different laws may have different standards to determine which health needs qualify for coverage. And, in many cases, more than one law may apply to your situation. If you have a question about whether you are covered under any of the laws mentioned, contact A Better Balance at 1-833-NEED-ABB.

Maine recently passed a paid family and medical leave law, which will begin providing benefits on May 1, 2026. For more information, click here.

The U.S. is one of the only countries in the world with no national law guaranteeing paid family and medical leave. However, you may have the right to unpaid leave during pregnancy, childbirth, and to bond with a new child. You may have additional rights under state and/or local laws. See the “Caring for Your Own Medical Needs” or “Caring for a Loved One” tabs for more information.

Unpaid Family & Medical Leave 

The law may protect your job while you are taking leave due to pregnancy, childbirth, or to bond with a new child (including adopted and foster children).

  • If you are covered, the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) allows you to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid time off of work per year to address your own serious health needs (including pregnancy), bond with a new child, care for a seriously ill or injured family member, or address certain military family needs—without losing your job (or your health insurance, if you have it).
    • Only about half of all private sector workers in the U.S. are covered by the law. You must: 1) work for the government or a company with 50 or more employees within 75 miles of your worksite; 2) have worked with your employer for at least 1 year; and 3) have worked at least 1,250 hours in the year before taking leave.
    • If you are covered, you can use the 12 weeks to care for your own health (including pregnancy), to care for a new child after birth, adoption, or foster placement, or to care for a seriously ill family member. Remember that you only get 12 weeks a year in total—if you take time off before you give birth for your own health needs, you’ll have less time afterward to bond with your baby.
    • Before giving birth, you may use your leave an hour or day at a time—such as by taking a day off per week to go to the doctor—rather than all at once. Your employer must approve, however, if you want to use leave time in smaller chunks to bond with your baby.
    • While you are on leave, if you receive health insurance through your employer, you have the right to keep your health insurance benefits.
    • When you return to work, you have the right to return to the same or a very similar job, unless you fall into a narrow exception.
    • If you are in the top 10% of highest-paid workers in your company, different rules apply.
    • If you have accrued paid leave from your employer, you may choose to use that paid time off concurrently with your FMLA time. Your employer can also require you to use your paid leave—including paid vacation, personal, or sick days—while you are taking FMLA leave.
  • Even if you are not eligible for FMLA leave, the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act can provide time off to recover from childbirth as a reasonable accommodation so long as it would not be extremely difficult or expensive for your employer to provide you with the time off.
  • Maine has a law that is very similar to the FMLA but covers a few more workers—the Maine Family and Medical Leave Act (MFMLA).
    • You are covered if: 1) your workplace has 15 or more employees (fewer than the FMLA’s requirement of 50 employees) and 2) you have been employed there at least 1 year (unlike the FMLA, it does not matter how many hours you have worked in the past year).
    • If you are covered, you can take up to 10 weeks of unpaid leave every two years.
    • You can use this leave for the birth or adoption of a child, your own serious illness, or the serious illness of a family member. Unlike the FMLA, you can take the leave to care for a sibling, domestic partner, or grandchild (in addition to a spouse, parent, or child).
    • You can also take this leave if you have a family member who dies or incurs a serious health condition while on active military duty.
  • The Maine Act to Protect Pregnant Workers may also give you the right to unpaid, job-protected time off work as a “reasonable accommodation” to physically recover from childbirth. See the “Pregnancy/ Pregnancy Loss” tab for more information.

Please note that each of these laws often covers certain categories of employees, but may not cover all types of employees. For example, special rules often apply to government employees. Additionally, different laws may have different standards to determine which health needs qualify for coverage. And, in many cases, more than one law may apply to your situation. If you have a question about whether you are covered under any of the laws mentioned, contact A Better Balance at 1-833-NEED-ABB.

Maine recently passed a paid family and medical leave law, which will begin providing benefits on May 1, 2026. For more information, click here.

When you return to work as a new parent, you may still need a few extra breaks to pump breastmilk or time off to care for your baby when they’re sick. There are a few laws that can help you get back to work safely and still care for your family.

Nursing Rights

  • Under Maine law, you have the right to express or pump milk at work. Your employer must provide you with unpaid break time to express breast milk for up to 3 years following childbirth. They have to make reasonable efforts to find you a private place other than the bathroom for pumping and cannot discriminate against you for expressing breast milk in the workplace.
  • The Maine Act to Protect Pregnant Workers may also help if you need a reasonable accommodation to express breast milk at work. See the “Pregnancy/Pregnancy Loss” tab for more information.
  • Rights for breastfeeding workers are strong in Maine, but national laws may also protect you (for example, if you work outside Maine):
    • The nationwide PUMP for Nursing Mothers Act applies to nearly all workers and gives you the legal right to private, non-bathroom space and reasonable break time for pumping at work. Learn more about your rights under the PUMP Act here or click the button above for a comprehensive guide on how to talk to your boss about your need to pump at work.
    • The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act can help you if you need reasonable accommodations for lactation-related needs, such as break time and private space to express breastmilk, a change in uniform if it’s affecting your ability to pump, or avoiding toxins that may be harmful for lactating parents.
  • It is illegal under the PUMP Act, Pregnancy Discrimination Act and/or the Maine Human Rights Act for your boss to retaliate against you because you are lactating.
  • Under Maine law, you have the right to breastfeed your child in any public or private location. For the text of the law, see here.

Caregiver Discrimination

  • Familial status discrimination is illegal under the Maine Human Rights Act. If you work for an employer of any size, your employer cannot discriminate against you because you are either 1) part of a family unit that includes one or more children under the age of 18 who are living with a parent, legal guardian, or parent or guardian’s designee; or 2) part of a family unit that includes one or more individuals over the age of 18 who are unable to meet their own requirements for physical health, safety, or self-care because they are unable to receive or evaluate information or make decisions; or 3) pregnant; or 4) in the process of securing legal custody of a child under the age of 18.
  • Some workers in Maine may have additional protection from caregiver discrimination under local laws.
    • The cities of Bangor and Orono have outlawed employment discrimination based on family status. Please note, it’s possible that additional cities may have passed caregiver discrimination laws.
  • Nationwide federal anti discrimination law, often referred to as Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, prohibits discrimination against caregivers if that discrimination is based on sex (including pregnancy), race, color, religion, national origin, disability, or genetic information. That means, for instance, if your employer refuses to promote you or cuts your hours because you are a mother and they have a stereotype that mothers are unable to work, that could be illegal discrimination under nationwide law.
  • The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) bans unfair treatment of workers based on their relationship with a person with a disability. For example, your boss can’t cut your hours because they think you can’t work as hard because you have a child with asthma. Or your boss cannot assume that you will cost more on the company’s health insurance plan because your family member is seriously ill.  However, this law does not give relatives of a person with a disability the right to accommodations, such as a schedule change, to help them provide care.

Taking Time Off from Work

Paid Time Off

A paid time off law typically provides short-term time off, often in increments of hours or days. Paid time off can be used for any purpose, including for when you or your family are sick.

If you work for an employer in Maine with 11 or more employees, Maine’s Earned Paid Leave law may give you the right to earn and use paid time off.

    • Under this law, you can earn one hour of paid time off for every 40 hours you work.
    • Your employer can limit you to using a maximum of 40 hours of earned paid leave per year.
    • Your employer can require you to be employed for 120 days before allowing use of earned paid leave.
    • You can use earned paid time off without providing a reason to your employer for such use. This can include time off due to an illness, injury, sickness, etc.
    • Absent an emergency, illness or other sudden necessity for taking earned paid time off, an employee must give “reasonable notice” to their supervisor. Use of leave must be scheduled to prevent undue hardship on the employer as reasonably determined by the employer.
    • To learn more about the law, see here.

Under Maine law, if your workplace has 25 or more employees, you have the right to use any sick time, vacation time, and comp time that your employer gives you to care for an immediate family member who is sick.

Unpaid Family & Medical Leave

Unpaid family and medical leave laws typically provide time off from work that allows you to keep your job but your time away from work may not be paid. Generally, if you are eligible for both paid family and medical leave and unpaid family and medical leave, you often have to take those at the same time but there may be exceptions. 

If you are covered by the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) or the Maine Family and Medical Leave Act (MFMLA), you have the right to take time off to care for a seriously ill family member. See the “Time Off for Childbirth and Bonding” tab for more information on these laws.

Other Laws that May Provide Paid Benefits

  • If you lose your job because you have family caregiving responsibilities, you may still be able to apply for Unemployment Insurance. For more information about how to apply, consult your state’s website. You may also want to consult with an attorney if you have questions about your eligibility.

Please note that each of these laws often covers certain categories of employees, but may not cover all types of employees. For example, special rules often apply to government employees. Additionally, different laws may have different standards to determine which health needs qualify for coverage. And, in many cases, more than one law may apply to your situation. If you have a question about whether you are covered under any of the laws mentioned, contact A Better Balance at 1-833-NEED-ABB.

© A Better Balance

Please note that this state-by-state guide is not intended to provide an exhaustive overview of any one law described. It is possible that other provisions may apply to your specific circumstances or category of employment.

Note also that the information contained in this guide does not constitute legal advice. Please be aware that if you are contemplating taking legal action, most laws have something called a “statute of limitations,” which means that you have to take action within a certain period of time following the violation. It is always advisable to consult with an attorney about your individual circumstances if you have questions or think your rights as a worker have been violated.

If you have additional questions about your rights, you can contact our free, confidential legal helpline.

Find Your State

Scroll to Top