Paid family leave could be coming to Maine

Maine could soon join 13 other states and Washington, D.C. that already have paid family leave with a bill that is being worked on by the Legislature.

On Tuesday, a committee that studied paid family leave for the last two years presented its findings to the labor committee.

Senator Daughtry from Brunswick is leading the charge. She said the commission has dozens of options they plan to share with the labor and housing committee. The commission unanimously supports paying between 80-120 percent of the average Maine weekly salary for up to 12 weeks of paid family leave.

The current average pay in Maine per week is $1103.

Daughtry, a small business owner herself, said having paid family leave across the state is critical for businesses like hers.

If paid family leave is passed in Maine, all businesses in the state would be able to offer this to employees, even the smallest businesses. But employees will have to pay into the system.

Daughtry said someone could pay as little as one or two dollars a week and still get 12 weeks of paid time.

Now that the commission has presented its findings, the Legislature will work on a bill to establish paid family leave in Maine.

Members of the commission and lawmakers are planning to travel across the state and talk with business owners about what they want to see in the paid family leave package.

If paid family leave is not passed by the legislature, there is a ballot initiative underway. Once signatures are submitted, the referendum could appear on the November 2024 ballot.