Maine’s Commission on Paid Family and Medical Leave will meet for the first time on Friday, October 29 at 9:00 AM to begin developing a statewide paid leave program. The Commission, established this year by the passage of LD 1559, is designed to create a policy that works for employees, small businesses, and large companies alike.
A coalition of Maine-based advocacy groups representing tens of thousands of Mainers, including Mainers For Working Families, the Maine Women’s Lobby, the Maine People’s Alliance, Maine Center for Economic Policy, and Planned Parenthood, have voiced strong support for the Commission and its aim to provide Maine workers with comprehensive paid leave.
“Paid family and medical leave has been one of my top priorities since I was first elected to the Legislature,” said Assistant Senate Majority Leader Mattie Daughtry. “As both a young woman who wants to start a family someday and a business owner, I know how important it is that we create a policy that works for both workers and employers. I’m so excited for this commission to get to work, so we can share our best ideas and move Maine forward.”
“New parents need time to bond with their babies. Adults need time to care for their older parents when they’re in need. And everyone needs time to recover from a medical condition or accident,” said Representative Kristien S. Cloutier. “These are not privileges, they are necessities in order to have healthy families and a healthy economy. This commission will give our state the framework to design a strong paid family and medical leave program that works well for Maine’s people and gives our workforce the boost it needs.”
"The pandemic has shown how critical caregiving is to the economy and keeping Maine's workforce healthy and stable,” said Destie Hohman Sprague, Executive Director of the Maine Women’s Lobby, which convenes the Maine Paid Leave Coalition. “A statewide system of paid family and medical leave will support employers as well as families, and our coalition is excited to work with the Commission to find the right solution for Maine".
“Every person deserves to take time off to care for themselves or the ones they love, without risking their livelihood,” said Evan LeBrun, Executive Director of Mainers for Working Families. “This commission, which includes policymakers, business owners, and labor and health experts, will ensure that Maine develops a tailor-made Paid Family and Medical Leave program that’s right for our families, small businesses, and communities."
Noël Bonam, State Director AARP Maine, added, "Maine’s unpaid family caregivers are the backbone of our care system. Across Maine, 181,000 family caregivers contribute more than 152 million hours of unpaid care each year, valued at about 2.2 billion dollars. Many of these caregivers also work full or part-time. Staying home when a loved one is sick shouldn’t mean losing your pay, or even your job. AARP Maine applauds the commission’s efforts to investigate the many ways that paid family medical leave can support Maine’s family caregivers."
Members include Senator Matthea Daughtry of Brunswick, lead sponsor of LD 1559; Representative Kristen Cloutier of Lewiston; Senator Kim Rosen of Hancock; Representative Paul Stearns of Guilford; Wendy Estabrook, Director of Human Resources at L.L.Bean; Drew Christopher Joy, an expert in issues affecting labor and independent contractors; Sarah Brydon, an expert in issues related to family and medical leave benefits; small business owner Emily Ingwersen; Charlie Mitchell, an employer in the hospitality industry; Laura Fortman, Commissioner of the Department of Labor; Bonita Usher, a former legislator from Buxton; and Barbara Crowley, MD, an executive VP at MaineGeneral Health and former pediatrician.
The Commission will study paid family and medical leave programs implemented in nine other states, as well as an actuarial study on the economic impact of the plan, to develop Maine’s program. Its final report and recommendations must be presented to the State Legislature by February 1st, 2022.
"The Paid Family Leave Commission plays an important role in determining the best Paid Family Leave program for Maine. A quality Paid Family Leave program is imperative for the economic stability and strength of our employers, families, and communities," said Julie Schirmer, Board President of the Maine Chapter of National Association of Social Workers.
"The PFML Commission has an important role in developing the kind of systemic support new families need in order to recover from birth, bond with their babies, and meet their feeding goals and recommendations,” said Kara Kaikini, Board President of the Maine State Breastfeeding Coalition. “Returning to work after having a baby is a physically and emotionally trying time for many reasons. Paid Family & Medical Leave will support the financial, physical, and mental health of Maine's new families."
"The current commission is a great first step in building a paid family medical leave program that works for all Mainers," added Elinor Lisa, founder of Paid Leave for ME.
“Paid medical and family leave policies that enable parents to spend critical bonding time with a newborn or newly adopted child contribute to healthy child development,” Stephanie Eglinton, Executive Director, Maine Children's Alliance. “The commission’s work will recognize the realities of balancing family, employment, and financial security for the benefit of Maine’s current and future workforce.”
“Research shows that paid family and medical leave is critically important for Mainers’ wellbeing and economic security,” said James Myall, Policy Analyst, Maine Center for Economic Policy We welcome the work of the commission to craft a policy that empowers all Mainers to care for themselves and their loved ones without fear of financial ruin or job loss.”
“Everyone, no matter who they are or how much they get paid, should be able to take care of themselves or a loved one in times of illness or other crises without going into debt or losing their job. But that’s not true for so many of us, especially for people of color, who often work in jobs that pay less,” said Cate Blackford, Public Policy Director for Maine People’s Alliance. “This commission is a great first step toward creating a Paid Family and Medical Leave program in Maine that protects people regardless of their income or the kind of work they do, and gives us all the time we need to take care of ourselves and each other.”
For more information on the Maine Paid Family Leave Coalition and its members, please visit mainefamilyleave.com.