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Employers wait as Maine interprets paid leave law

Proposed rule published for comments

Posted June 7, 2024

Employers with employees in Maine are watching how the state Department of Labor (DOL) proposes to interpret the Maine Paid Family and Medical Leave (PFML) Program.

Under the proposed rules, employees would be covered by the program (and may take the leave) if they received wages in the state at least six times the state average weekly wage during the first 4 of the last 5 completed calendar quarters immediately preceding the first day of an individual’s benefit year. The rules do not exclude part-time, seasonal, or temporary employees.

The only exceptions would be:

  • Employees covered by the federal Railroad Unemployment Insurance Act,
  • Incarcerated persons earning wages in a Maine correctional or detention facility, and
  • Students earning wages as part of the federal Workstudy Program who are enrolled in any University of Maine system.

Other items of note in the proposed rule include the following:

  • Intermittent and reduced schedule leave may be taken by the covered individual in increments of not less than a scheduled workday.
  • If the employee is eligible at the start of leave for pregnancy and recovery from childbirth, that eligibility is retained for family leave for bonding with a child immediately after medical leave.
  • Employees taking leave to care for an individual with whom they have an affinity relationship is limited to one such designated individual per benefit year.
  • “Child” is not defined, and no age limit is mentioned.
  • Employees have job protection only if they have worked for their employers for at least 120 consecutive calendar days before leave began.
  • Employers may run PFML concurrently with federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) leave but may not require employees to exhaust paid time off or other company-sponsored benefits prior to taking PFML.
  • Employers may not require written notice of the need for the leave.
  • Employers must meet certain criteria that the state DOL would use to determine whether a private fully insured or self-insured plan is substantially equivalent.

This article was written by Darlene Clabault of J. J. Keller & Associates, Inc.

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