Maine Passes Paid Family and Medical Leave Program

Maine has passed a bill that grants up to 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave per year to all eligible employees of private and public employers, excluding the federal government.  This includes full-time and part-time employees, regardless of employer size. 

Covered Employers: 
  • The law defines eligible “Employers” as any of all public (except federal) and private employers, along with self-employed individuals. 
  • Employers with less than 15 employees are not obligated to contribute to the payroll tax but must collect and forward the employee’s tax share. Their employees are immediately eligible for paid family and medical leave upon starting their job 
  • Private employers with comparable or better leave benefits can request a state waiver to opt out. Both public and private employers in collective bargaining agreements must honor superior or additional leave rights specified in their contracts, pending further clarification on practical implications.

Covered Employees:
  • A “Covered individual” must have earned at least six times the state average weekly wage in the first four calendar quarters immediately preceding the first day of their benefit year. 
  • Additionally, coverage extends to the legal and biological family members of covered individuals, along with those who have “a significant personal bond that is or is like a family relationship regardless of biological or legal relationship” with covered individuals. 

Family Leave Eligibility:
  1. To bond with the covered individual’s child during the first 12 months after the child’s birth or the first 12 months after the placement of the child for adoption or foster care with the covered individual; 
  2. To care for a family member with a serious health condition; 
  3. To attend to a “qualifying exigency,” meaning a need arising out of a covered individual’s family member’s active duty service or notice of an impending call or order to active duty in the United States Armed Forces, including, but not limited to, providing for the care or other needs of the military member’s child or other family member, making financial or legal arrangements for the military member, attending counseling, attending military events or ceremonies, spending time with the military member during rest and recuperation leave or following return from deployment or making arrangements following the death of the military member; 
  4. To care for a family member of the covered individual who is a covered service member; 
  5. To take safe leave; or
  6. Any reason listed in Maine’s Family Medical Leave Requirements (26 M.R.S. § 843(4)):
    • Serious health condition of the employee;
    • The birth of the employee’s child or the employee’s domestic partner’s child;
    • The placement of a child 16 years of age or less with the employee or with the employee’s domestic partner in connection with the adoption of the child by the employee or the employee’s domestic partner;
    • A child, domestic partner’s child, grandchild, domestic partner’s grandchild, parent, domestic partner, sibling, or spouse with a serious health condition; or
    • The donation of an organ of that employee for a human organ transplant.

The bill requires benefit claims to be processed starting on January 1, 2026.