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June 9, 2024

Maine agency seeks public input on proposed paid leave rules

Stephen Hanington of Hanington Bros. Inc. forestry company in northern Maine. File Photo / Fred Field Stephen Hanington, president of Hanington Brothers Inc. in northern Macwahoc, has expressed concern about the impact of Maine's new Paid Family and Medical Leave law on small businesses like his own.

Businesses and individuals have a say in how Maine’s new Paid Family and Medical Leave Program will be implemented, and are invited to submit their comments to the Maine Department of Labor.

Public comments can be submitted through July 8 on proposed rules for the program, which will give eligible workers up to 12 weeks of paid time off for family or medical needs.

Funding will come from a 1% payroll tax starting Jan. 1, 2025, with benefits scheduled to begin on May 1, 2026, as detailed in this official timeline.

Employers with plans whose benefits go beyond the state-sponsored ones will be allowed to keep the private plans in place, pending approval from the Labor Department. 

The paid leave program remains highly divisive, with potential strains on staffing raising concerns with some employers. such as Steve DiMillo of Portland restaurant DiMillo’s On the Water and Steve Hanington, president of Hanington Brothers Inc., a forest products company in northern Macwahoc.

Among the law’s supporters, Kate Beever of Maine Music & Health has told Mainebiz that the law is “incredibly important for families who are struggling to balance their lives as caretakers."

Another supporter is Gia Drew, executive director of Portland-based EqualityMaine, who welcomes the law’s expanded definition of “family.”

Public comments on the proposed rules around implanting the new law can be submitted either online or by mail to the Maine Department of Labor at 50 State House Station, Augusta, ME 04333-0050.

The agency will continue to provide updates on the new law here.

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