Friday, June 16, 2023

Tim Nangle: Paid family and medical leave ‘the way life should be’

By State Senator Tim Nangle

There's a chance right now to make a real difference for families in Maine. LD 1964 is a bill that would create a Paid Family and Medical Leave (PFML) program in Maine. This would be a lifeline that can help hardworking Mainers balance life and work during the toughest times.

State Senator Tim Nangle
This bill, carefully crafted by State Sen. Mattie Daughtry and State Rep. Kristen Cloutier, proposes a statewide paid family and medical leave program. This proposal would grant up to 12 weeks of paid leave for Mainers with qualifying life events, ensuring job protection for employees who have been with their employer for at least 120 days.

The program would be funded by a wage contribution shared equally between employees and employers, equivalent to 1 percent or less of an employee's wages. Critically, the legislation provides flexibility for our small businesses, allowing employers with 15 or fewer workers and those offering comparable leave plans to opt out. However, people who work for a small business would still be eligible to participate.

The PFML program is designed to offer support during critical life events. It would allow employees to take paid time off for a specific set of reasons. This includes joyous occasions like welcoming a new child into the family through birth, adoption or fostering. It also recognizes the challenges many face, such as supporting a sick or dying loved one, caring for an older family member, or recovering from surgery, an accident, or other health issues.

Additionally, it provides leave for those preparing for or transitioning back from a family member’s military deployment as well as for immediate safety needs if you or a family member are a victim of domestic or sexual violence. The bill is designed to be inclusive, recognizing a wide spectrum of personal and family needs.

However, it's essential to understand that not all reasons for leave would be covered by the bill. For instance, the proposed legislation does not cover extended time off for personal vacations or other non-critical personal matters. This ensures the program can sustainably support those most in need while being fair to employers and other employees.

Only 15 percent of American workers have access to paid leave, and fewer than 60 percent have access to unpaid leave under the federal Family Medical Leave Act. Maine is the only state in New England without a PFML program. It is time for us to join the 14 other states and the District of Columbia that already have these programs.

The pressing need for this legislation was made clear in the testimony of one of our very own neighbors, Emer Smith, a resident of Windham. Emer bravely shared her experiences of struggling to care for her dying mother and her premature daughter while also trying to meet her work obligations. Her story underscores the urgent need for a paid family and medical leave program in Maine. Emer’s story is not unique; far too many Mainers face similar difficult choices between work, health, and family.

Adopting PFML will give employees the flexibility and support they need during life’s most challenging moments. It will allow workers to balance caring for their children and aging family members while supporting their health and financial needs. For employers, PFML is a tool to attract and retain desperately needed workers, an issue that has only grown more pressing in recent years.

As this bill heads to the Senate and House for votes, please share your stories, and join our collective effort to make this vision a reality.

The passage of the Paid Family and Medical Leave bill is not just a matter of policy — it is a testament to our values as a community and a state. We believe in the strength of our families, in the resilience of our workers, and in our collective responsibility to support each other during challenging times. Let’s keep fighting for a Maine that truly embodies "the way life should be."

If you or someone you know needs assistance, wants to discuss legislation, or needs help connecting with a state agency, please don’t hesitate to reach out. My email is, and my office phone number is 207-287-1515. You can find me on Facebook at To receive regular updates, sign up for my e-newsletter at <

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