Maine employees will soon be eligible to take protected unpaid leave to care for serious health conditions of their grandchildren. On June 14, 2021, Governor Janet Mills signed into law L.D. 61, an Act to Include Grandparents Under Maine’s Family Medical Leave Laws. The law amends the Maine Family Medical Leave Act to allow an employee to take unpaid leave to care for a grandchild or a domestic partner’s grandchild. Previously, the law limited leave to care for another individual’s serious health condition to children, domestic partners’ children, parents, domestic partners, siblings, or spouses.
Maine’s FMLA requires employers in Maine who employ 15 or more employees at one location in Maine to provide employees 10 weeks of unpaid FMLA leave over a two-year period. To qualify, an employee must have been employed by the employer for over one year. Employees may use this leave for the birth of a child or adoption of a child 16 or younger; the employee’s own serious health condition; caring for the serious health condition of their children, grandchildren, domestic partner’s grandchildren, domestic partner’s children, parents, domestic partners, siblings, or spouses; donation of an organ for human transplant; or death or serious health condition of the employee’s spouse, domestic partner, parent, sibling, or child if the death or serious health condition occurs while on active duty in the U.S. military or state armed forces.
Upon the end of this leave, employees are entitled to be restored to the position they had when the leave commenced or to a position with equivalent seniority status, benefits, pay, and other terms and conditions of employment. Employers are required to allow an employee to continue his or her benefits during the leave period at the employee’s own expense.
The expansion of the covered reasons for leave to include the serious health condition of a grandchild will go into effect 90 days after the end of the Maine Legislature’s present session.