In addition to any maternity or paternity leave benefits your employer may offer, the Maine Family Medical Leave Act (MFLMA) and federal law also offer pregnant and new parents some rights and protections when it comes to taking time off after the birth of a child or adoption. However, only certain employees qualify so it’s important to understand your rights. Below are some of the most frequently asked questions about maternity leave in the state of Maine.
Am I Eligible for Leave Under FMLA or MFLMA?
We’ve written elsewhere about the requirements to qualify for FMLA but in Maine, the MFLA is more inclusive of those who work at smaller companies. If you’ve worked for at least 1 year for a private employer with more than 15 employees; a state agency; or a city, town or municipal agency with 25 or more employers.
Are Mothers and Fathers Both Eligible for Leave?
Yes, under both FMLA and MFLMA, both parents of newborn children, regardless of children are eligible to take leave so long as they meet the other requirements.
How Much Leave Will I Receive?
If you meet the eligibility requirements, you are allowed to take up to 10 weeks of unpaid leave in any 2 year period. That leave must be continuous for parental leave reasons; you cannot take 2 weeks and then come back to work for 4 weeks and then take an additional 8 weeks, unless, of course, your employer agrees.
How Much Do I Get Paid During My Leave?
Unless you have taken out short-term disability insurance or your employer offers paid leave, unfortunately you have no legal rights to pay during your maternity or paternity leave. You may use any accrued paid time off, vacation or sick days during your 10 week parental leave.
What Happens to My Benefits During Leave?
Under FMLA, your employer must continue to pay for your group healthcare benefits as they previously did (though you may still be responsible for certain premiums). Similarly, under MFMLA, your benefits must continue as if you were not on leave. However, this applies to not just healthcare but other benefits, as well.
What Kind of Notice Requirements and Other Rules Should I Know About?
Your employer must reinstate you when you return to the same or “equivalent” job. You must tell your employer at least 30 days before you take your leave, if possible and not an emergency. If for some reason, your newborn or spouse is ill, you or your spouse may receive up to 40 hours of paid leave under another law in Maine, the Maine Family Care Act. If this happens during your parental leave, the two leave periods run concurrently (meaning you can take a total of 10 weeks, not 11 weeks) and one of the 10 weeks will be the paid week under the Maine Family Care Act.
What If I Have Further Questions or Believe My Rights Have Been Violated?
You may contact the Maine Department of Labor to file a complaint if you believe your rights have been violated. Please note that while we are not attorneys, we've summarized what we could find from publicly available sources regarding your leave rights as a Hawaii employee. You may also file a complaint with Hawaii’s Civil Rights Commission within 180 days if you believe you have been discriminated based on your pregnancy.
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