Portland Coalition
for a Healthy Economy

We are a coalition of large and small businesses, individuals, and membership organizations who oppose Mayor Strimling's ordinance that would place a unique and “one-size-fits-all” mandate on all businesses located in Portland to provide their employees with the same paid time off benefits.

What is Mayor Strimling Proposing?

The Mayor is proposing a citywide mandate (language here) that will require large and small businesses in Portland to provide all of their employees with one hour of paid leave for every thirty hours worked - up to six full days per calendar year. Businesses that do not comply will be subject to harsh fines and civil action. Businesses outside Portland will not be covered – just Portland businesses.

Key facts:

  • All businesses that employ workers in Portland are covered regardless of size, seasonality, sector, or current benefits provided.

  • Businesses outside Portland would not be covered, creating an uneven playing field for Portland businesses.

  • The mandate will create a new "Department of Labor" in City Hall that will enforce the mandate - and will create a separate labor law that varies from any other municipality's law or state law.

  • If the business currently provides paid time off, that policy must be adjusted to comply with the new one-size-fits-all mandate.

  • Employers must provide paid leave beginning after just 45 days, rather than the standard 90-day vesting period, to all employees regardless of numbers of hours they work, age, or occupation.

  • The employee may utilize the paid sick leave without any advance notice and an employer is not allowed to require a doctor's note to verify an absence.

  • The employee's accrued paid time off can carry over into future calendar years and be used anytime.

  • If the City finds a violation, the business can be required to pay back three times the amount of any back wages withheld and $100.00 or more to the employee as a penalty for each day that a violation of the ordinance has occurred.

  • The total cost to taxpayers could be over $400,000 (source), increasing property taxes substantially. Many of these benefits will go to workers who are not residents of Portland and just work here - but it's up to the Portland taxpayer to foot the bill.


Why We Oppose the Municipal Mandate

We Believe Portland Must Remain Competitive

Portland has one of the tightest job markets we have ever seen and because of that, businesses already have to find creative ways to be attractive to hire and retain employees. Many are already offering added benefits that their employees want – this would change with this additional mandate on their businesses.  Businesses should be allowed to offer their employees the benefits their employees want and that the businesses can afford.

Many of Portland's businesses also have locations outside of the city, where this paid time off requirement won't apply. This will either force Portland businesses to provide the same benefits across all of their locations with all employees or provide different sick leave policies for perhaps puts added compliance regulations and cost on Portland businesses who will be forced to work handle time off differently than other locations.

The Mandate is Far Too Broad

The proposed ordinance mandates that Portland businesses provide one hour of paid leave for every 30 hours an employee works, up to six days a year -- no matter whether the employee works 40 hours a week or 1. Mandating leave for part-time and seasonal employees will be a serious challenge for employers who will now have to integrate time off for part-time and seasonal workers into their staffing schedules, pay for that time off and also schedule an employee to cover that shift to ensure business can continue as usual.

This ordinance will have serious consequences on how employers run their business, from what benefits they can offer to whether they need to cut hours or entire positions to pay for this mandate. Plus, the ordinance will have serious implications for many businesses already struggling to find workers such as those in tourism or that are heavily dependent on seasonal workers.

The Mandate Will Cost Businesses and Taxpayers

Businesses will need to pay the 6 days per year per employee as well as increased compliance costs to track time off. Businesses will need to track paid sick leave accrued and used to insure compliance with the ordinance to avoid fines or civil action. This increase in costs would be on top of Portland’s increased minimum wage as well as rising health care costs – these are real costs absorbed by employers. 

Furthermore, Portland taxpayers will have to provide the funding for the City to enforce the mandate as well as provide its employees with the stipulated benefits - to the tune of $400,000 in the local budget. And many of these benefits won't even be seen by Portland residents, but instead by non-residents who simply work in Portland. This, on top of all the other recent demands of taxpayers.

The Mandate Was Drafted With Zero Business Input

It's no wonder the mandate is so poorly worded, as the Portland business community was not part of the conversation around the need for or the details of this ordinance when it was created. In fact, this ordinance was prepared by special interests outside Portland based on general information, not information garnered from the range of businesses in Portland. The fact is, if Portland is going to develop an employment ordinance unique to Portland, there should be some evidence that Portland is different than other communities.  That information wasn’t developed, and does not exist. So, why treat Portland businesses differently?


Get Involved

Join the Portland Coalition for a Healthy Economy as we take our case to City Hall that this mandate is bad for employers - and employees - in Portland and will hurt business in our City. Sign up below to learn more!



What does the mandate require?

How will the City enforce the mandate?

Violation of the ordinance would result in up to three times the amount of back wages owed the employee and a fine of up to $100.  The ordinance allows employees to bring civil action against the employer for any ordinance violations.

What qualifies as "sick leave"?

The leave can be used for a wide range of reasons including mental or physical health of employee, of a family member or of someone whose close association with the employee is the equivalent of a family relationship. The employer is not allowed to request documentation/doctor note unless the employee is on sick leave for 3 days or longer.

Where can I read the proposed mandate?

The proposal requires employers to provide every employee – whether full time, part time, or seasonal, and regardless of accumulated work hours per year -- with up to 48 hours (6 days) of paid time off a year.  Employees will accrue one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked.  This time begins to accrue immediately upon commencement of employment without a vesting or waiting period.


The proposed wordage for the paid sick leave mandate is available here.

In the News

"The paid sick leave mandate would change how we run our business, and it wouldn’t allow us to treat our employees like family or with compassion in their times of need. The proposed language of the mandate shows what happens when business leaders are not involved in making these types of decisions."

"The mandatory sick pay ordinance negates the balances and attributes of negotiated benefits to both the owners of small businesses and the people who work for them. By establishing a mandated suite of entitlements with impossible rules, requiring huge resources, there is little to nothing left for negotiation between worker and business owner, especially small and micro businesses like mine."

“Many of our members have already expressed great concern about the ordinance and the impact it will have on their businesses, and we are working with them to understand the full impact it could have on Portland’s business community,” Hentzel said.

The Portland released the following statement about Monday's rally:
"The Chamber supports employers offering paid sick leave and in fact, employers can and most do offer paid sick leave without a mandate forcing them to do so. But Mayor Strimling's one-size-fits-all local mandate is not the right solution for such a complex issue as benefits packages."

Portland’s small businesses are the backbone of this community, yet Portland Mayor Ethan Strimling has been waging a war of division that will hurt these businesses and their employees.

“Many of our members have already expressed great concern about the ordinance and the impact it will have on their businesses, and we are working with them to understand the full impact it could have on Portland’s business community,” Hentzel said.


Contact Us

Portland Coalition for a Healthy Economy

C/o Portland Community Chamber of Commerce
443 Congress St
Portland, ME 04101

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Sign on to our open letter to the Mayor and Council opposing the proposed paid sick leave mandate.  Sign the letter here.