Maine State Sen. Mattie Daughtry, D-Brunswick, on May 7, 2021 introduced a bill that would create a commission to study the best way to implement a paid family leave policy in Maine.
President Joe Biden’s American Jobs Plan, has a large portion of funds that would be allocated to helping families take care of their members at home as part of his infrastructure. He has another plan that he announced during his joint address to Congress that addresses family paid leave.
Daughtry’s bill, LD 1559, “Resolve, To Create the Commission To Develop a Paid Family and Medical Leave Benefits Program,” was the subject of a public hearing before the Legislature’s Committee on Labor and Housing.
“Before the COVID-19 pandemic, I remember clearly walking to work one morning, listening to a radio news story about the importance of paid family leave, and feeling a pang of sadness and fear that as someone who is self-employed, that was a benefit I might never see,” said Sen. Daughtry. “This pandemic has shown us just how important it is for workers of all ages to have paid time off to take care of their families in times of need. We’ve all seen the headlines about parents, especially mothers, leaving the workforce in droves to take care of their children. No one should be forced to choose between financial security and personal and family wellness. We need to find a way to best implement Paid Family Medical Leave to ensure Mainers aren’t faced with these painful and burdensome decisions.”
LD 1559 would create a commission to study and propose a comprehensive paid family medical leave program for Maine. The commission will hear from workers, employers, caregivers, and experts, and will propose a system to support all workers, families, and employers in Maine. This commission would craft a system that best fits Maine’s needs and demographics.
Only 15 percent of American workers have access to any sort of paid leave, and fewer than 60 percent of the workforce has access to unpaid leave under the Family Medical Leave Act. Nationally, one in four women takes fewer than 11 days of parental leave after giving birth despite a recommended 6–8-week recovery period.
A livestream of a press conference introducing the bill can be found here.
The bill faces further action in committee.