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Maine moves small step closer to state paid family and medical leave program

  crowd that rallied at the state house.
Patty Wight
Maine Public
A crowd rallied at the state house in support of paid family leave on May 25, 2023.

Maine's new paid family and medical leave program is one small step closer to rollout.

The state Department of Labor closed comments on the proposed rules for the program yesterday. It will allow many workers to take up to 12 weeks of paid leave a year, to care for a sick family member or bond with a newborn, an adopted child or a foster child.

Program director Luke Monahan said employers and their workers will have to pay into the system starting in January, but benefits won't begin until almost two years from now.

"Benefits eligibility will begin May 1, 2026," he said. "This really is a broad reaching law that applies to almost all employees and employers in Maine."

The department now has 120 days to review the comments and finalize the rules, or make revisions and get further public comment.

"I mean I think that the most important thing is just recognizing that this is very broad reaching legislation, that I think that's going to have a transformational effect on workers and businesses alike," Monahan said.

The Maine State Chamber of Commerce argues that the rules need major revisions. The chamber points out that employers cannot pick a private plan option until January of 2026, meaning they must pay into the program for months before being able to opt out.

Kaitlyn Budion is Maine Public’s Bangor correspondent, joining the reporting team after several years working in print journalism.