Paper Trails

What is Maine Paid Family Medical Leave?

Another compliance challenge is coming for Maine business owners.  Recently, Maine legislatures passed funding for a new Maine Paid Family Medical Leave program.  Soon Maine will become the latest state to enact such a program.  Maine’s program is set to be one of the broadest and most generous paid family and medical leave programs in the country.

One of the promises that we make at Paper Trails is to keep your business ahead of these new challenges to ensure compliance for your business.  In this article, we will discuss what we know so far about Maine’s Paid Family Medical Leave program and how that will impact your business.  By the end of this article, you will understand the intricacies of Maine’s program and what your business must do to navigate this challenge.  Be sure to stay tuned to our blog and social media channels as more information about this program in made available.

Let’s get started!

What is Paid Family Medical Leave?

Unfortunately, unexpected occurrences can take place for one of your employees.  These things can cause employees to miss an extended period of time from work, resulting in an employee potentially experiencing financial hardship the longer they are out of work.  And while FMLA, or The Family Medical Leave Act, protects employees from termination due to extended leave for certain medical scenarios, this leave does not have to be paid.  This is why many states have adopted a Paid Family Medical Leave program.

As defined by the U.S. Department of Labor, Paid Family Medical Leave provides employees with paid time away from work due to medical reasons that require a long-term absence. This leave can be taken for family reasons, such as caring for an ill family member or a new child, or medical reasons, such as a personal serious illness or injury. Maine could potentially be joining many other states and the District of Columbia by offering a PFML program. Other states with these programs include:

  • California
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • Oregon
  • Rhode Island
  • Washington

What we know about Maine’s Paid Family Leave Program

While there are still many details to be worked out about Maine’s PFML program, we do know some of the details today.  Let’s discuss these things.

  • Maine’s program will provide up to 12 weeks of paid leave per year to all eligible employees of private and public employers regardless of employer size.
  • Employees of the federal government are exempt.
  • Employers and employees will split a 1 percent payroll tax to fund the program.
  • Leave is not limited to employees’ own conditions or conditions of a direct family member. This means that the plan permits employees 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.”
  • Employees can take the paid leave immediately after starting employment.

Tired of struggling with challenges like PFML?

Our team of payroll and HR experts are here to work side-by-side with you to navigate this ever-changing world.

Other questions about Maine’s program

Now that we have covered some of the basic details that we know so far, let’s answer some frequently asked questions about this program.

What are eligible employees?

All public and private full-time and part-time employees, as well as self-employed individuals, who earned at least six times the state average weekly wage in the first four calendar quarters immediately preceding the first day of an individual’s benefit year are covered by this program.  This means that using the current average weekly wage, any individual who earned at least $6,216 in the year prior to taking leave are covered.

What are covered employers?

All public and private employers, as well as self-employed individuals are covered by the program.  Federal government employers are not covered by the program.


How much will eligible employees earn?

During the approved leave period, employees will receive 90% of their wages for income earned that is equal to or less than 50% of Maine’s average weekly wage.  Currently, this average weekly wage is $1,103.  Any portion of an individual’s weekly wage that is more than 50% of the state’s average weekly wage is replaced at 66% up to the maximum weekly benefit.  To calculate the benefit amount, the average weekly wages the individual earned over the preceding four calendar quarters will be used.  Earnings from bonuses will not be included in the calculation.


What can leave be used for?

Eligible employees can use this paid leave for a number of reasons.  At this time, some of these reasons include:

  • Bonding with the covered individual’s child during the first 12 months after childbirth or in the first 12 months after the placement or adoption of a child.
  • Caring for a family member with a serious health condition.
  • Attending a qualifying exigency.  This is defined as “a need rising out of a covered individual’s family member’s active duty service or impending notice of a call or order to active duty.”
  • Caring for a family member of the covered individual who is a covered service member.
  • Safe leave, otherwise known as sexual assault victim leave.
  • Any other reason set forth in Maine FMLA requirements.

Do all employers have to contribute to this program?

There are a few instances when businesses will not have to contribute a payroll tax to the program.  These instances are:

  • Employers can opt-out of the program if they offer comparable private paid leave to their employees.  Employers cannot impose a cost to employees that is greater than the payroll tax under the state plan for these private programs.
  • Or, employers with 15 or less workers are exempt from paying the employer portion of the tax.  However, employers must withhold the employee portion and remit this to the state.  Employees of businesses with 15 or less employees can still receive benefits from the program.

When will this program take effect?

At this time, Maine plans to begin assessing the payroll tax for this program on January 1st, 2025.  Employees will be able to begin taking paid leave on May 1st, 2026.

What other rules should employers know?

Employers must be aware that they must restore the employee to the same or equivalent position once the employee returns from leave.  This same or equivalent position must have equal pay, benefits, and other conditions of employment. The rules apply to eligible employees that have worked at least 120 days prior to taking leave.  If the employee has not worked for at least 120 days, they may not be subject to these protections.

Employers will also be required to post a labor law poster in the workplace.  We will have this poster available for FREE on our website once it is available.  Employers must also issue written notice to each employee within 30 days of hire that includes details of this program.

Employees looking to take paid leave must provide employers with only reasonable notice of their intent to take leave.

What should employers do to prepare?

Businesses should begin reviewing their leave policies to prepare to comply with this mandate.  Employers should check back in with us, through our blog and social media channels, to learn more details of this program as we receive them from the state.

Tired of struggling with challenges like PFML?

Our team of payroll and HR experts are here to work side-by-side with you to navigate this ever-changing world.