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Maine to implement paid family and medical leave in 2026

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Dive Brief:

  • Maine Gov. Janet Mills authorized on Tuesday the creation of a paid family and medical leave program for certain private and public workers. Under the program, which takes effect May 1, 2026, workers will receive up to 12 weeks of paid leave per year for their own medical condition or to care for a family member. Notably, employees will be allowed to take family leave to care for individuals beyond biological or legal family members.
  • The state will provide $25 million in start-up funding, but the program will be supported by a 1% payroll tax split by employers and employees. It was signed into law as part of the state’s budget. 
  • “Today Maine made historic progress to strengthen working families, joining 13 states and the District of Columbia to ensure paid family and medical leave,” Congresswoman Chellie Pingree, D-Maine, said in a statement released after Tuesday’s passage. “Now, we must secure paid family leave nationwide and lower the astronomical price of child care!”

Dive Insight:

Maine joins more than a dozen other states in enacting its own paid family and medical leave program in the absence of a federal one. 

In February, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul announced a policy, effective immediately, that provided nonunion state employees with 12 weeks of fully paid parental leave “to use for bonding with a newborn, fostered or adopted child.” 

At the federal level, politicians and worker advocates are championing mandated paid leave nationwide. President Joe Biden pushed for paid family and medical leave during the State of the Union address, and former U.S. Department of Labor Secretary Marty Walsh has said there’s an opportunity to build on the Family and Medical Leave Act and establish nationwide paid leave.

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