Last Updated: 07/19/2023
Maine Family and Medical Leave Programs
What is the Update?
Maine Paid Family and Medical Leave (ME PFML)
(Update 7/17/23, Effective 05/01/26): A new ME Paid Family and Medical Leave program will provide up to 12 weeks of family leave, safe leave, and qualifying exigency leave for qualified employees, beginning May 1, 2026. The Maine Department of Labor will administer the program and will establish procedures for claim filing. The program is funded by a 1% payroll tax split evenly between the employer and employee, beginning January 1, 2025, and covered employees can start taking PFML leave beginning May 1, 2026.
Covered employees include all public, private full-time and part-time employees (including self-employed individuals) who have earned at least six times the state average weekly wage in the first four calendar quarters immediately preceding the first day an individual’s benefit year are covered by the new law. The current average weekly wage is $1,036, meaning if an individual has earned at least $6,216 in the year prior to taking leave, they are covered. All employers are covered by the new PFML program. Although employers with less than 15 employees are not required to contribute toward the payroll tax, they must still collect and remit their employee’s portions of the tax. Private employers that offer an equivalent or greater paid leave benefit may apply to the state for a waiver to avoid participating in the state program.
Eligible employees or self-employed individuals may take up to 12 weeks of Paid Family and Medical Leave for the following reasons: To bond with a child during the first 12 months after the child’s birth, placement, adoption, or foster care with the covered individual; to care for a family member with a serious health condition; to attend a “qualifying exigency”; to care for a family member of the covered individual who is a covered service member; safe leave (also known as sexual assault victim leave); as well as any reason under Maine’s Family and Medical Leave Statute which includes:
- A serious health condition of the individual
- Birth of the employee’s child or individual’s domestic partner’s child
- Placing a child 16 years of age or under with the individual or the individual’s domestic partner in connection with adoption of the child
- For the death or serious health conditions of certain family members in the military who died or incurred a serious health condition while on active duty (spouse, domestic partner, parent, sibling or child)
- For the donation of an organ of the individual for a human organ transplant
The law defines a “Family Member” as a biological, foster, step, or adopted child (regardless of age); grandparent; grandchild; sibling; spouse or domestic partner; or an individual with whom the covered individual has a significant personal bond that is or is like a family relationship, regardless of biological or legal relationship. An employee may take up to 12 weeks of family leave and 12 weeks of medical leave, but not to exceed more than 12 weeks allotted per leave type in an applicant year. Leave may be taken intermittently in increments of not less than eight hours or, if agreed upon by both the employee and employer, on a reduced schedule leave.
The ME PFML benefit will replace 90% of an employee’s wages for income earned that is equal to or less than 50% of Maine’s average weekly wage (currently $1,306 in 2023), and if the portion of the covered individual’s average weekly rate is more than 50%, the state average weekly wage must be replaced at 66% up to the weekly maximum benefit. The maximum weekly benefit amount will be determined closer to the law roll out, and may be adjusted each year. Employees may file an application no earlier than 60 days before the anticipated start date of PFML, and no more than 90 days after the start date of leave.
Updates to your company handbook may need to be made if you include Maine state-specific leave benefits information.
Employers will be required to provide a workplace notice as well as a written notice to each employee within 30 days of the start of employment. The notice is not released by ME at this time. We will provide this to our clients, once published.
Further Company Considerations