The Commission on Paid Family and Medical Leave is in the midst of crafting its recommendations for Maine’s statewide Paid Family and Medical Leave Program. What can we expect that program to entail?
Last month, the Maine Paid Leave Coalition put forth its suggestions in a letter to the Commission, urging a comprehensive, universal approach to this much-needed policy. The Maine Paid Leave Coalition represents tens of thousands of Mainers among its organizations, including Mainers For Working Families, the Maine Women’s Lobby, the Maine People’s Alliance, Maine Center for Economic Policy, and Planned Parenthood.
Among the Coalition’s recommendations to the Commission on Paid Family and Medical Leave:
A Universal Approach: For a Paid Family and Medical Leave policy to work in Maine, it must work for all Mainers. Regardless of gender, occupation, or family structure, every Mainer should have the opportunity to access paid leave. This leave should cover a variety of situations: leave for bonding with and caring for a new child, caring for a sick family member, addressing one’s own serious medical and mental health needs, and preparation and reintegration following military deployment.
Job and Wage Security: Too many Americans come back from a leave of absence to find that they have lost the job they once had. Others taking leave don’t receive enough in replacement wages to cover their basic needs. No Mainer should have to choose between losing their income and taking care of themselves or their loved ones.
100% Public: Maine’s Paid Family and Medical Leave program should be administered exclusively by the State, with no private involvement from third parties or non-profits.
Social Insurance: Just as every working Mainer should be able to take advantage of Paid Family and Medical Leave, every working Mainer should pay into the system to apply it effectively. It’s the same logic behind Social Security: employers and employees pay a small tax in order to access benefits in retirement.
Every single one of us has faced or will face a time when we need to take time off from work to care for ourselves or our loved ones. Nobody should have to choose between using leave and keeping their job to meet their basic needs. Mainers deserve a comprehensive, easily accessible Paid Family and Medical Leave program that benefits our families, our small businesses, and our communities.