Gov. Janet Mills on Thursday endorsed the creation of a paid family and medical leave program that also won support in both the House and Senate, putting the proposal on course to become law as soon as next week.

The mandatory program would affect nearly all workers in Maine, making them eligible for up to 12 weeks of paid leave for qualifying conditions. Here is what this law would mean, once it fully goes into effect in 2026.

Would I be eligible to take a paid leave?

All full- and part-time workers, contract workers and self-employed people would be eligible for leaves of up to 12 weeks under the program. Some companies in Maine already have their own programs and could keep them.

Could I take a leave for any reason?

No, it has to be for a qualifying family or medical reason and proof would have to be submitted for the claim.


Parents of newborn babies, individuals caring for a sick family member and workers who have long-term illnesses, are recovering from surgery, are recovering from domestic or sexual violence or are preparing for or transitioning back from military deployment would be eligible.

Parents can “stack” the benefit, so one parent could take the first 12 weeks after birth, and the other parent could take the next 12 weeks, for example.

How much would I be paid?

How much you would earn while on leave depends how much you earn when working. The paid leave program would cover 75% to 90% of a worker’s regular income up to a maximum benefit equal to the state’s average weekly wage, which is $1,036. The first $518 of a worker’s regular pay – half the state’s average weekly wage – would be covered at 90%. Regular earnings over that amount would be covered at 66% – until you reach the cap.

Do I get my job back after my leave?

If you have been working at your job for at least 120 days, your employer would be required to hold the job for when you return from a paid leave. If you apply for a leave before you have worked 120 days, you would be entitled to a paid leave but your employer would not have to hold the job open for you.


What will the program cost me and my company?

Workers on paid leave would be paid from a new state fund, which will raise money through a new payroll tax.

The amount of the payroll tax would fluctuate depending on what actuaries say is needed to fund the program, but the maximum amount is a 1% tax split evenly between employee and employer. More likely, based on the benefit amount and experience from other states, it would be closer to 0.7%, with employer and employee each paying 0.35% of weekly wages into the program, says Sen. Mattie Daughtry, D-Brunswick, the bill’s co-sponsor.

Will the tax come out of my paycheck? How much will it be?

Yes, it will come out of your paycheck. For an employee earning $50,000, it would be about $200 per year in taxes. A business with 50 employees, each earning $50,000, would pay $10,000 in additional taxes.

Are all business required to participate?


No, employers who already have comparable or more benefit-rich plans will be allowed to keep their plans.

And businesses with 15 or fewer employees would be exempt from paying into the program, although workers at those businesses would still pay the tax and be eligible for the benefit.

When would it start?

Taxes would start being collected in 2025, with benefits to begin in 2026.

Do other states do this?

Twelve other states and the District of Columbia have some form of mandatory paid family leave, including Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island. Vermont and New Hampshire have voluntary programs.

Don’t we already have family leave?

The federal government approved unpaid family leave in the 1990s, and Maine has a modest program currently in place that generally awards one week of paid leave for some workers.

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