A Leave Manager’s Guide to Maine Paid Family and Medical Leave (ME PFML)

May 28, 2024

On July 11, 2023, Maine’s governor Janet Mills signed a budget that included the creation of Maine Paid Family and Medical Leave (ME PFML). This will make Maine the thirteenth state to establish a paid leave program for state residents.  

Beginning in 2026, eligible workers in both the private and public sector will have up to 12 weeks of paid time off available to them. They can use the paid leave for family or medical reasons including illness, to care for a relative, or for the birth of a child.

Who is eligible for Maine Paid Family and Medical Leave (ME PFML)?

All public employees (except those employed by the federal government), private full-time and part-time employees and self-employed individuals are eligible for ME PFML.

However, there are earning requirements. The employee must have earned at least six times the state average weekly wage (currently $6,622.26) in the year immediately prior to the first day of an individual’s benefit year (covered by the law). The employee does not need to have been working for their current employer when they earned this income. Employees can take paid leave immediately after starting new employment.

What new protections does ME PFML grant employees?

Maine Paid Family and Medical Leave offers participating employees up to 12 weeks of medical and or family leave in a benefit year. However, the law does not set a minimum wage replacement. The maximum weekly benefit equals the state average weekly rage, currently set at $1103.00.

What wage replacement does ME PFML offer?

Under Maine Paid Family and Medical Leave, the law does not set a minimum benefit, the maximum weekly benefit will equal the state average weekly wage, currently set at $1,103. This is updated every July 1 by the state worker’s compensation board.

Do employers have to pay for ME PFML, and if so, how does that work?

Starting on January 1, 2025 (one year before ME PFML benefits become available to employees) employers and employees will begin paying a 1% payroll tax to fund the program. This 1% payroll tax will be split equally between the employee and the employer (which the employer must collect and remit to the state).

Employers with fewer than 15 employees are exempt from contributing to the program, but they must still remit the employee’s portion of the payroll tax to the state.

Employers with 15 or more employees are required to participate in and contribute to the ME PFML program unless they offer equivalent or greater paid medical and family leave benefits. In this case, the employer can apply for a waiver to opt out of participation in the state program. Employers cannot require their employees to contribute more than the payroll tax employees must pay under the state plan.

Does Maine Paid Family and Medical Leave interact with other types of leave?

Employers can require ME PFML to run concurrently with leave taken for qualifying reasons under the FMLA.

Does ME PFML offer job protection?

The new law provides job protection for employees who take ME PFML if they have been employed with their current employer for at least 120 days before taking leave. Employers must restore the employee to the same or equivalent position with the same benefits, pay, and other employment conditions upon their return from leave.

What leave options does ME PFML provide employees?

Medical life events that qualify for the use of ME PFML include:

  • Illness
  • Injury
  • Impairment
  • Pregnancy
  • Recovery from childbirth
  • Physical, mental or psychological condition involving impairment care or continuing treatment by a healthcare provider

Family-related life events that qualify for the use of ME PFML include:

  • Bonding
  • Family care
  • Qualifying exigency
  • Care for covered service member
  • Safety
  • Organ donation
  • Military bereavement

What documents can employers ask employees to provide?

The Maine DOL is working to develop required forms and certifications, which will be provided to employees applying for benefits.

When does an employee need to give notice of their ME PFML?

Employees must give at least 30 days’ notice before taking leave.

How can your HR team ensure they are compliant with ME PFML?

Employers should work with their benefits and employment counsel to determine how PFML benefits will be provided to employees and make sure their policies and procedures are updated. AbsenceSoft is working with its product and compliance teams to ensure policies will be ready for this change.