Maine Governor Janet Mills has signed a budget into law that includes a paid family and medical leave program.
This program will provide most public and private employees 12 weeks of paid leave per year, starting on May 1, 2026.
- Employees are eligible as long as they have earned at least six times the state average weekly wage in the first four calendar quarters of an individual’s benefit year. Using Maine’s current average weekly wage, an employee is eligible as long as they have earned at least $6,216 in the last year before taking leave.
- Qualifying reasons for leave include the birth or adoption of a child, one’s own serious illness (including pregnancy), to care for a sick relative or to attend to a “qualifying exigency” related to the employee’s or a covered family member’s military service, safe leave (aka sexual assault victim leave), or for the donation of an organ of the employee for a human organ transplant.
- Maine’s program defines covered family members broadly. It will enable an employee to take leave to care for an individual with whom they have “a significant personal bond that is or is like a family relationship regardless of biological or legal relationship.”
- The program will be funded by a 1 percent payroll tax, divided evenly between employers and employees. Contributions from both parties will begin on January 1, 2025.
- Heads Up: All employers (with the exception of the federal government) are covered by the program.
- Employers with fewer than 15 employees do not have to contribute to the payroll tax; however, they must still collect and remit the employee’s portion of the tax.
- Private employers may apply to opt out of the state’s program if they offer equivalent or greater paid leave benefits and do not impose a cost on their employees that’s greater than the payroll tax under the state plan.
- Covered employees who have been employed for at least 120 days prior to taking leave are entitled to be restored to the same or equivalent position with the same or equivalent benefits, pay, and other conditions of employment. This requirement also applies to small employers.
This is an active time for leave-related legislation. Each year, states nationwide review and revise their legislation to make it more accessible. If your team is managing leave in multiple states, staying abreast of these frequent changes can be a struggle. Outsourcing employee leave to Sparrow, the first true end-to-end leave management provider for modern employers, can provide you with confidence in your leave compliance.