AUGUSTA — Maine’s mandatory paid leave for workers has become law with the new year. But the state isn’t going to enforce a ban on single-use, plastic carry-out bags and plastic foam takeout containers.

The paid-leave law that went into effect Friday allows workers to accrue one hour of paid leave for every 40 hours worked, up to 40 hours per year, at businesses with more than 10 employees.

The law requires employers with over 10 workers to offer paid leave that could be used for illness or emergencies.

Meanwhile, the Maine Department of Environmental Protection said it will delay enforcement of the ban on single-use containers and plastic bags in January because of increased demand for takeout food and meals and lack of alternatives during the pandemic.

Compliance concerns have been raised by supermarkets, restaurants, retailers and more, so the the department is delaying enforcement until July 1.

“Rather than take a piecemeal approach, it seemed the best approach would be to say, ‘July 1, this is when we’re giving everybody a chance to get their ducks in a row,’ so to speak,” said Brian Beneski, who supervises recycling programs for the environmental department.

Also on Jan. 1, the state’s minimum wage is going up.

The increase from $12 to $12.15 is mandated by state law requiring annual adjustments based on the cost of living index beginning in 2021. It follows $1 annual increases to the minimum wage each of the past three years.

Also going into effect on Jan. 1 were several changes for people who use health insurance plans that are regulated by the state:

• The out-of-pocket expense for a 30-day supply of insulin is limited to $35.

• Deductibles and co-pays are waived for the first primary or behavioral health care visits.

• Health care providers are required to accept a physician’s assistant as a primary care provider.

Those changes don’t apply to all insurance plans utilized by Maine residents – just individual and small group plans regulated by the state, officials said.


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