Client Alert: Maine Paid Family & Medical Leave Proposed Rule

On May 20, 2024, the Maine Department of Labor released its proposed rule (the “PFML Rule”) regarding Maine’s new Paid Family and Medical Leave program, which is set to begin collecting contributions in 2025 and begin paying benefits in 2026. Recognizing that the PFML Rule must be read in conjunction with Maine Paid Family and Medical leave statute, a link to a summary of the law can be found here. Importantly, the proposed PFML Rule is a work in progress, and is subject to a review and comment period, including a public hearing on Monday, June 10, 2024, and a comment period that shall run until Friday, July 8, 2024. For convenience, a link to the page to submit public comments can be found here. This summary of the PFML Rule is not intended to provide a comprehensive review of all of the PFML Rule’s provisions, and instead is simply intended to provide an overview of notable provisions within the PFML Rule.

Ineligible Employees:

  • Employees subject to the railroad unemployment insurance act
  • Incarcerated persons
  • College students that are earning wages as part of the federal Work-Study Program

Eligibility to Take Leave:

  • An employee taking family leave to care for an individual with whom they have an “affinity relationship”— a close personal bond similar to a familial relationship — is limited to taking leave for one such designated individual per year
  • The number of days an employee has worked for an employer does not impact the employee’s ability to take leave for a qualified reason (but only employees that work for their employers at least 120 consecutive calendar days are entitled to protections upon return to work)

Private Plan Substitution:

  • Employers may request to substitute a “substantially equivalent” private fully insured or self-insured plan
  • Applications for substitution may be made after January 1, 2025, but an exemption may not be effective prior to April 1, 2026
  • Employers are responsible for premiums until the effective date of substitution (from January 1, 2025 until at least April 1, 2026)
  • Applications for substitutions must be submitted on a form approved by the MEDOL, and must include an application fee to be determined by the MEDOL
  • An approved substitution is valid for 3 years

Reduction in Benefits:

  • Benefits must be reduced by the amount of wage replacement that an individual receives from a government program or law, including unemployment insurance, workers’ compensation, other state or federal temporary or permanent disability benefits, or from an employer’s permanent disability program or policy
  • Benefits may NOT be reduced due to:
    • Any benefit from SNAP, TANF, HEAP, or similar programs
    • Wages received from any other employer for whom the individual is not on leave
    • Wages received from the employer from whom the individual is on leave for hours actually worked or authorized leave time used during the same week
    • Wages paid by the employer to pay the difference between the weekly benefit amount and an employee’s typical weekly wage (if the employer voluntarily pays such wages, the employer may charge that time against the covered individual’s leave balances)
    • Supplemental wages received from an employer’s short-term disability program

Application for Benefits:

  • Applications for benefits may be submitted online, and shall include all information requested by the administrator that is reasonably necessary to determine eligibility for leave
  • Such requested information shall include, but is not limited to: proof of identity, employer information, reason for leave, and documentation from a health provider
  • Applications for benefits also must include a signed statement that the information is true
  • Applications can be submitted no more than 60 days prior to the start of leave, or 90 days after the start of leave
  • Failure to timely submit an application within 90 days after the start of leave may be waived for “good cause”, including a prolonged period of incapacity, or a natural disaster or prolonged system outage of the application system

Notice and Undue Hardship:

  • Absent an emergency, illness, or sudden necessity for taking leave, employee’s must give “reasonable notice” of their intent to take leave
  • 30 days’ written notice shall be presumed to constitute reasonable notice
  • For leave that is not foreseeable due to emergency, illness, or sudden necessity, an employee must provide written notice “as soon as feasible under the circumstances”
  • Notice provided by a family member or a health care provider is permitted
  • An employer claiming undue hardship with respect to scheduling foreseeable leave has the burden of proving undue hardship
  • An employer’s determination of undue hardship shall not be reasonable unless the employer provides: (1) a written explanation of the undue hardship; (2) the employee retains the ability to take leave within a reasonable time; and (3) the employer has made a good faith attempt to work out a schedule for such leave that meets the employee’s needs (subject to approval of the employee’s health care provider)

Payment of Benefits:

  • Approved benefits shall be paid by direct deposit or in the form of a debit card, as may be requested in an application for benefits
  • Medical leave benefits are subject to a waiting period and are not payable for the first 7 days beginning on the first day of leave

Premium Payments:

  • Employer premium amounts and contribution reports must be remitted quarterly
  • The contribution report must be on a form and in a manner approved by the MEDOL
  • The employer size for purposes of determining premium liability is to be determined as of October 1, 2024 for premium liability in calendar year 2025, and on every October 1 thereafter for each subsequent calendar year
  • Employers may choose to pay the employee portion of the premium or deduct such premiums from the employees
  • An employer’s decision to pay the employee portion of the premium must apply to all employees
  • If an employer fails to deduct the required employee portion of the premium during a pay period, the employer is considered to have elected to pay the employee share and cannot deduct the amount from a future paycheck

Other Information:

Along with additional details on the provisions above, the PFML Rule also provides guidance on claim review and appeals procedures, fraud and ineligibility, the penalties for failure to pay premiums, and elective coverage by self-employed individuals and tribal governments.


The PFML Rule provides extensive additional guidance on the Maine Paid Family and Medical Leave program. While the rules are only in proposed form, and the summary above does not include all of the specific details of the PFML Rule, employers should review the proposed rule and take advantage of the opportunity to submit comments to the DOL seeking changes and clarification. If you have any questions or concerns regarding the final rule or its impact on your business, please contact Eaton Peabody attorney Jack Bjorn at for additional assistance.