Update applicable to:
All employers with employees in Maine
Maine Governor Janet Mills has approved the creation of a paid family and medical leave program for private and public workers, effective May 1, 2026. The program grants eligible employees up to 12 weeks of paid leave per year for their own medical condition or to care for a family member, including individuals beyond biological or legal family members.
What are the details?
Funding and Implementation
The state will provide $25 million in start-up funding, and the program will be supported by a 1% payroll tax shared equally between employers and employees. Maine joins over a dozen other states in enacting its own paid family and medical leave program in the absence of a federal one.
Calls for Nationwide Paid Leave
At the federal level, there are efforts to establish nationwide paid leave. President Joe Biden has advocated for paid family and medical leave, and former U.S. Department of Labor Secretary Marty Walsh sees an opportunity to build on existing legislation such as the Family and Medical Leave Act.
Key Features of Maine’s Program
Maine’s program, known as L.D. 1964, provides up to 12 weeks of paid leave per year to eligible employees in the public and private sectors, regardless of employer size. The program allows employees to take leave to care for individuals with whom they have a significant personal bond, irrespective of biological or legal relationships. The state will impose a 1% payroll tax split between employers and employees to fund the program.
Job Protection and Reasons for Leave
Covered employees must be reinstated to the same or equivalent position with the same benefits, pay, and conditions of employment after taking leave. Eligible reasons for leave include bonding with a child, caring for a family member with a serious health condition, attending to a qualifying exigency related to a family member’s military service, and taking safe leave or leave for reasons outlined in Maine’s Family Medical Leave Requirements.
Confidentiality and Notice Requirements
Employers must treat medical and health information received from employees seeking benefits as confidential. They are also required to post a notice in the workplace about the program’s benefits and provide written notice to employees about their rights and obligations. Employees are required to provide reasonable notice of their intent to take leave.
Cost and Fraud Protection
The program is funded through a 1% payroll tax, which employers collect and remit to the state. Individuals who fraudulently claim paid leave face a one-year disqualification from the program and potential repayment of received benefits.
Employers and employees, including self-employed individuals, will begin paying the payroll tax starting on January 1, 2025. Covered individuals can start taking paid family and medical leave on January 1, 2026.
For more information, please see the links below:
What do employers need to do?
The Littler law firm advises that assuming the governor signs L.D. 1964 into law, employers should begin reviewing their leave policies to prepare to comply with the impending new law. Employers should also monitor the state rulemaking process and contact counsel to ensure compliance with the forthcoming rules.
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