Maternity and Parental Leave Laws in Maine

Maine's family and medical leave law provides pregnancy and parenting leave in addition to the FMLA, and the state will soon offer paid leave for pregnancy and parenting.

By , J.D.

If you work in Maine for a larger company, the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) gives you the right to take unpaid leave when you're expecting a new child. FMLA provides leave for:

  • pregnancy
  • childbirth, and
  • parenting.

Maine also has its own family and medical leave law. The state law applies to smaller companies, so it covers more people. And starting in 2026, most employees in Maine will be able to get paid family and medical leave.

In addition, the federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) and Maine's pregnancy discrimination laws prohibit your employer from discriminating against you because of your pregnancy, which might give you the right to take time off work when you're having a baby. And the 2023 Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA) strengthens your protections at work.

Maine Maternity Leave for Pregnancy and Childbirth

There are two types of laws that might protect your job if you need pregnancy leave:

  • laws that provide for pregnancy leave, and
  • laws that prohibit pregnancy discrimination.

Maine Laws on Family and Medical Leave for Pregnancy

There are three different laws that provide for maternity leave in Maine, with different eligibility rules.

FMLA. The federal FMLA gives eligible employees the right to take up to 12 weeks off work in a one-year period for pregnancy and childbirth—including prenatal care such as routine check-ups and doctor visits. But the FMLA applies only to employers with at least 50 employees. (29 U.S.C. 2601, et seq.)

You're eligible to use FMLA leave if both of the following are true:

  • you've worked for a covered employer for at least 12 months, and
  • you've worked for your employer for at least 1,250 hours during the 12 months immediately preceding your leave.

The FMLA requires your employer to make your job (or an equivalent one) available for you when you return, but the FMLA doesn't offer any wage benefits.

(Learn more about the FMLA, including eligibility requirements, in our article on FMLA leave for pregnancy and disability.)

MFMLRA. Maine has its own family medical leave law called the Maine Family Medical Leave Requirements Act (MFMLRA). The current law is similar to the FMLA in that it allows employees to take time off for pregnancy. But there are some important differences between the two laws.

More people qualify for leave under Maine's family leave law, but it provides less time off than the federal FMLA. (Me. Rev. Stat. tit. 26 §§ 841-849) Here are the specifics of the MFMLRA:

  • Maine's law applies to all employers with at least 15 employees.
  • The law covers employees who've worked for their employer for at least 12 consecutive months.
  • There's no "hours worked" requirement, so the law covers full-time and part-time workers.
  • Employees can only take up to 10 weeks of MFMLRA leave in a 2-year period.

PFML. Maine's new Paid Family and Medical Leave (PFML) law, which takes effect May 1, 2026, improves these benefits but also adds a new eligibility requirement. (PL 2023 ch. 412 § AAA-7 (.pdf).) The changes include:

  • increasing the amount of time you can take off to 12 weeks per year, and
  • requiring you to earn at least 6 times the state average weekly wage (SAWW) in the year before your starts.

And the other big change is that Maine's PFML program pays cash benefits to employees who can't work due to pregnancy, childbirth, and when taking time off to bond with a new child. (More on this below.)

Paid leave under this state law runs concurrently with FMLA leave. So you won't be able to take 12 weeks of paid PFML leave and then take 12 more weeks of unpaid FMLA leave.

Pregnancy Discrimination Laws in Maine

The 2023 Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA) is a federal law that protects the rights of pregnant workers. The PWFA covers private and public sector employers with at least 15 employees. The law requires covered employers to provide "reasonable accommodations" if you need them due to pregnancy, childbirth, and related conditions, and that can include time off work. (Learn about your rights to time off as a reasonable accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act.)

The federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act doesn't require employers to give pregnant employees time off. But when you can't work due to pregnancy, the law does require employers to treat you the same as employees who are temporarily disabled for other reasons. So if your company lets employees take time off for other temporary disabilities, like a broken leg or a long illness, then you must be allowed to take time off when you can't work because of your pregnancy.

Maine has a similar law prohibiting pregnancy discrimination. (Me. Rev. Stat. tit. 5 § 4572-A.) The state law doesn't require employers to allow all pregnant employees to take time off—just that they be treated the same as other employees. So if your employer provides leave to other employees who are temporarily unable to work, the same leave must be made available to you when you can't work due to pregnancy.

Maternity and Paternity Leave for Parenting in Maine

Both state and federal laws protect your job when you take leave to bond with your new child. The FMLA and Maine's family leave laws provide time off when:

  • your child is born
  • you adopt a new child, or
  • a foster child is placed in your home.

FMLA Parenting and Paternity Leave in Maine

The FMLA gives eligible employees the right to take parental leave as part of their 12-week leave entitlement. So, if you use 2 weeks of FMLA leave during your pregnancy, you'll have 10 weeks left for parenting leave (within a year of your child's birth).

Parenting Leave Under Maine's Family Medical Leave Law

Maine's current family medical leave law also gives you the right to take parenting leave as part of your available 10 weeks off every two years. So again, if you use 2 weeks of leave during your pregnancy, you'll have 8 weeks of parental leave available over the next two years.

But starting in 2026, you'll be able to take up to 12 weeks of paid parental leave each year when you welcome a new child into your home.

Special Rules for Paternity Leave When Parents Work for the Same Employer

If you're married to someone who works for the same company, your employer can require you and your spouse to share the 12 weeks of FMLA parental leave. But whatever portion of your own 12 weeks of FMLA leave you don't use for parenting will still be available to you for other reasons, including your own serious health condition.

This rule doesn't apply to leave taken under Maine's current family medical leave law nor the state's paid leave law that takes effect in 2026.

Part-Time Leave Under Maine's FMLRA

The FMLA allows employees to take their pregnancy leave intermittently if it's medically necessary. Maine's current family medical leave law works the same way.

So, if you have a prenatal check-up, you don't have to take a whole day off. Instead, you can use a couple of hours of your FMLA leave and then go back to work.

The same is true for pregnancy-related ailments that don't last all day. If, for instance, you have morning sickness that lives up to its name, you might need a few hours off in the morning but be able to come to work by lunchtime.

But for parental leave, the rules are different. If you want to use your parenting leave under the FMLA or Maine's current family medical leave law a little at a time—for example, by returning to work half-time for a while or by taking some of your leave when the baby is born and some at a later point—your employer must agree to it.

You aren't automatically entitled to use parental leave intermittently. If you do use your parenting leave intermittently, you must finish your time off within one year after the baby is born.

The state's new paid leave law (starting May 1, 2026) allows you to take pregnancy or parenting leave intermittently to an extent. You can use your paid leave in eight-hour blocks without getting your employer's permission—otherwise, your employer must agree to an alternate schedule for taking reduced leave.

Getting Paid During Your Time Off

FMLA leave and leave under Maine's current family and medical leave law is unpaid. But you can use your accrued paid leave (like sick days, vacation, or PTO) to get paid during your time off. And your employer can actually require you to use it.

Once Maine's new paid family and medical leave law takes effect in 2026, eligible employees will be able to collect benefits for up to 12 weeks when they take time off for pregnancy, childbirth, or bonding with a new child.

There's a seven-day waiting period before benefits begin. You can use accrued paid time off to cover the waiting period. But your employer can't require you to exhaust your accrued paid time off.

How much will the new program pay? Your benefit amount will be based on your average earnings and the state's average weekly wage (SAWW). You'll receive 90% of your wages, up to 50% of the SAWW ($1,104 as of July 1, 2023). And you'll also earn 66% of anything you earn over that amount, up to the maximum benefit amount (which is equal to the SAWW).

How to Get Paid Before Paid Leave Begins in 2026

Until 2026, or if you aren't covered under the new paid leave program once it starts, you might still be able to get paid during your leave. Your employer might offer benefits like:

Talk to your HR representative or manager (and check your employee handbook) to find out what types of leave are available to you.

If you don't have paid benefits available through your employer and you have time to plan ahead, you might purchase private short-term disability insurance that covers pregnancy.

Updated August 4, 2023

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