Health care workers react to a vehicle pulling up to the COVID-19 testing site in front of the Lewiston Armory in this file photo taken in March. The testing site was being staffed by medical personnel from St. Mary’s and Central Maine Medical Center. The hospitals have different policies on how to treat sick time if an employee contracts COVID-19. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

Full-time hourly employees at Maine Home Depots have been given an extra 80 hours in paid time off for work missed related to COVID-19 in addition to a $100 weekly bonus.

At Lowe’s, there are 14 days of emergency paid leave and in-store food pantries for associates.

At TD Bank, it’s full pay if you’re out for symptoms or exposure. At the University of New England, you’re tapping into existing sick leave.

How Maine companies are handling coronavirus-related sick days during an unprecedented pandemic ranges from full pay to relying on earned time off, and it’s a shifting landscape.

After nurses at St. Mary’s Regional Medical Center complained last week that they had to use earned vacation or sick time if quarantined due to exposure, the hospital system reversed course days later, offering full pay.

Maine’s hospitals’ policies vary as much as its grocers’ do, with Shaw’s employees receiving two paid weeks off and Hannaford workers potentially dipping into earned time.

The Sun Journal attempted to reach out to Maine’s 20 largest private employers, as measured by the Maine Department of Labor, to ask how they’re approaching the time off.

• L.L.Bean

“We have implemented a Pandemic Pay Policy that provides hourly employees with 10 paid days to be used as it’s most useful for them — including illness (themselves or a family member), reduced work hours, and/or as support for employees who must be out of work to care for children or other family members,” spokeswoman Amanda Hannah said.

• Hannaford

“All associates (hourly and salaried) who have been asked by us to stay home, who have been quarantined by an agency such as the local health department or (Centers for Disease Control) or who themselves or a family member have been diagnosed with COVID-19 have access to at least two weeks of paid sick time for scheduled shifts,” spokesman Eric Blom said. “The specifics of whether that is existing sick time or specially granted sick time depends on individual circumstances, but all associates in those situations have at least two weeks, without going into their accrued holiday or vacation pay.”

• Bath Iron Works

If an employee tests positive for COVID-19 or shows symptoms, the company will continue to pay them during the five days it takes for short-term disability to kick in, according to spokesman David Hench.

The same policy applies for employees who are sent home to self-monitor after an exposure at work.

• Northern Light Health, parent of Eastern Maine Medical Center and Mercy Hospital

“If it is likely to be related to an exposure at work, we pay the time for quarantine as regular wages,” spokeswoman Suzanne Spruce said. “If it is a community exposure not related to work, then it would be paid time off. We are also allowing employees to go into a negative in their paid time off PTO, in the instance where someone does not have enough PTO hours to cover a non-work-related quarantine.”

• TD Bank

“Our top priority is the health and well-being of our colleagues and customers,” spokesman Matthew J. Doherty said. “If an employee cannot work remotely and is directed by TD to stay home due to symptoms or exposure, they receive full pay and they do not need to use their personal paid time off benefit.”

• UNUM

“We’re offering employees special emergency pay for up to 14 calendar days if they’re unable to work from home due to complications with COVID-19,” Kelly Spencer, manager of corporate communications, said. “Examples of this would be if an employee has child care issues due to the disruption and cannot work from home, doesn’t have home internet, or is quarantined under CDC guidelines.”

Additionally, employees who test positive for COVID-19 may qualify for short-term disability, she said, which covers 100% of pay after one year of employment or 70% for less than one year.

• University of New England

“Individuals who have had to take time off due to either having COVID-19 or being exposed to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 use sick time or other leave to cover their time out,” spokeswoman Sarah Delage said. “UNE provides generous leave benefits and employees can accrue up to six months of sick leave. (Human resources) will work with employees on a case-by-case basis if they do not have enough sick time to cover their time out of the office due to COVID-19 to ensure that they are not financially disadvantaged due to the virus.”

• Lowe’s

The chain has taken a several-tiered approach, according to Pedro Chen, a senior analyst in public relations. It offers 14 days of emergency paid leave that can be taken for illness, caring for a loved one or a hardship like a day care closure.

Extended emergency paid leave is being offered up to a month for associates at a higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19, he said. Stores are also “creating in-store pantries so associates have access to food during work and to take home.”

• Home Depot

“All hourly full-time associates received an additional 80 hours of paid time off, and part-time hourly associates received an additional 40 hours of paid time off,” spokeswoman Margaret Smith said. “For associates who are 65 years of age or older, or determined to be at higher risk by the CDC, we’ve added another 80 hours of paid time off for full-time associates and another 40 hours of paid time off for part-time associates. This incremental PTO can be used anytime, for any reason, between now and the end of the year, and will be paid out at year-end if not used.”

That chain is also rolling out a four-week bonus of $100 a week for hourly associates who work more than 35 hours a week. Employees working 16 to 35 hours a week will receive a $50 weekly bonus.

• Central Maine Healthcare

Spokeswoman Kate Carlisle confirmed Friday that employees who are required to quarantine have three choices: Using their own earned time, using a sick leave bank for 60% of their pay or applying for short-term disability.

• Shaw’s

“Associates diagnosed with COVID-19 will receive up to two weeks of replacement pay while they are unable to work,” spokeswoman Teresa Edington said. “Associates who are asked to self-quarantine by the company will also receive up to two weeks of quarantine pay.”

• MaineHealth

“Any employee sent home by his or her manager for any COVID-19 related reason is receiving their normal full pay and benefits and does not have to use their paid time off,” spokesman John Porter said. “This would include employees impacted by the decision to postpone elective procedures and nonessential medical appointments as well as those who must self-quarantine because of suspected exposure to COVID-19 in the community.”

Mid Coast Hospital became part of the MaineHealth system on March 1 and the same policies apply, he said.

• Walmart

“Should an associate have a confirmed case of the virus, they’ll receive up to two weeks of pay,” according to the company’s website. “If they’re not able to return to work after that time, additional pay replacement may be provided for up to 26 weeks for both full-time and part-time hourly associates.”

If an employee is part of a mandated quarantine, “you will receive up to two weeks of pay and absences during the time you are out will not count against attendance.”

• St. Mary’s Regional Medical Center

President Steven Jorgensen said employees who are quarantined for work-related exposure will receive their regular pay, according to a memo obtained this week by the Portland Press Herald and reconfirmed Friday. Employees who test positive will have two weeks of extra earned time.

The Sun Journal was unable to reach Jackson Laboratory, WEX, MaineGeneral Medical Center or Pratt & Whitney.


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