Paid Family Medical Leave Legislation Coming Soon

Posted By: Mary Alice Scott Advocacy + Government,

[Note: This is a quickly moving issues, so please check our blog for more recent information as it becomes available.]

You may soon be seeing news about a Paid Family Medical Leave (PFML) bill in the Maine legislature.

This bill has the potential to impact your staff and your organization, and now is a good time to familiarize yourself with the details of the potential proposal.

What is PFML?

Let’s start with what PFML is not:

  • Many are familiar with the Federal version of paid family leave - often referred to as “FMLA” or the Family Medical Leave Act. FMLA became law 30 years ago, and it requires employers with 50 or more employees to offer 12 weeks of unpaid leave per year when the employee or their immediate family has a qualifying medical event.
  • Maine also passed a Paid Leave Law a few years ago, which was implemented in 2021. That law requires employers with 10 or more employees to offer 1 hour of paid leave for every 40 hours worked, up to 40 hours a year. 

While both of the above laws require employers to provide leave of some sort, PFML is different because it would offer a longer-term leave of absence (like FMLA), and it would be paid (like Maine’s current Paid Leave Law).

Many of the details are still being worked out, so we don’t know exactly what will be in the proposed legislation, but we have some clues about the major elements that will be included.

In 2021, the Legislature created a Maine Paid Family + Medical Leave Commission to study paid leave. After meeting for over a year, the Commission released a report and recommendations. Based on that report, we know that the bill may include the following:

  • 16-week maximum total combined limit per year, with a 12-week maximum per particular qualifying need
  • Employers with >15 employees required to pay in, and all employees required to pay in 
  • Includes all workers (full-time, part-time, temporary and seasonal workers)
  • Employers with fewer than 15 employees could also participate
  • Leave can be used for the same purposes as federal unpaid FMLA, with the addition of coverage for affinity relationships
  • Independent contractors and gig workers could opt in
  • Would be paid for via additional payroll tax - 1% is the desired cap (split either 25% employer/75% employee or 50/50%)
  • Same requirements to preserve employees' jobs as federal unpaid FMLA

REMINDER: The details are subject to change during the legislative process.

Where to Learn More

You can read the Commission’s report to find details about what the Commission recommended to the legislature.

Check back here or in MANP's newsletter, where we'll be sharing more information as it becomes available.

How To Weigh In

Nonprofits will likely have valuable input to this process. Nonprofits are grappling with the moral and strategic need to better care for their workforce, while also juggling increased demand for services, and reimbursement rates and grant structures that often do not reflect the true costs of services. As a 501c3 nonprofit, your organization cannot participate in partisan politics - or favor one political party over another - but you can (and should!) lobby on issues that matter to your organization. Our Raise Your Voice toolkit has more information on the ins and outs of lobbying for charitable nonprofits.

As of yet, the bill has not been “printed” (this means we do not know exactly what is in the bill, because the language has not been publicly announced), but it is expected any day now. Once the bill is printed, it will be assigned to a legislative committee, and a Public Hearing will be scheduled, potentially as soon as next week. The Public Hearing will be an opportunity to submit testimony about the bill to let legislators know how you feel.  We will update this blog post and include information in our newsletter when there are more details.