|II. Overview of Maine's Family Requirements and Relationship with Federal FMLA|
Maine's Family and Medical Leave Requirements, 26 M.R.S.A. § 843 et seq., apply to any Maine employer with twenty-five employees total and fifteen or more employees in one location. Such employers must allow eligible employees to take a leave of absence for up to ten consecutive weeks in any two years due to certain family or medical reasons.
A. Which employers are subject to Maine's FMLR?
Any employer with 25 or more employees, 15 of whom are in one location, must comply with the FMLR. (Note that employers with fifty or more employees in Maine may or may not be subject to the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (see Section I), but will always be subject to the FMLR).
B. Which employees are eligible to take leave under the FMLR?
Under the FMLR, an employee of a covered employer who works in a workplace with 15 or more employees is eligible to take family or medical leave if he or she has been employed by the employer for twelve (12) consecutive months. Note that under the FMLA, the requirement is 12 months total with 1250 hours in the past 12 months, but not necessarily 12 consecutive months.
C. What are the four valid reasons for taking FMLR leave?
Under the FMLR, an eligible employee may take family and medical leave (up to ten consecutive weeks in any two years) only for:
D. What is the definition of "serious health condition"?
The FMLR defines "serious health condition" similarly to the way that the federal FMLA statute defines that term. It is unclear whether the definitions developed under the U .S. DOL's regulations will apply, however.
E. What is the employee's right to reinstatement?
An employer must restore an employee who has taken family medical leave to the position held by the employee when the leave commenced or to a position with equivalent seniority status, employee benefits, pay and other terms and conditions of employment.
F. What benefits are employees entitled to during FMLR leave?
Leave taken pursuant to the FMLR is generally unpaid. Of course, the employer may provide paid leave for any of the specified reasons if it chooses to do so.
G. How much leave is required under the FMLR?
Employers need only give ten consecutive weeks in any two-year period.
H. Substitution of Paid Leave
The FMLR is silent with respect to whether employer can require employees to use up accrued paid leave, such as sick days or vacation leave, during family and medical leave.
I. May employers require medical verification and certification?
Employers may require certification from a physician to verify the need for leave. With one exception (see below), other practitioners (e.g., nurses, psychologists, clinical social workers) need not be accepted by the employer .
J. What is a violation of the Maine FMLR?
The prohibitions of the FMLR are similar to those of the FMLA:
K. How may employees enforce their rights?
Employees may bring a civil action against any employer to enforce their rights under the FMLR.
Employers must post the Maine Department of Labor's poster regarding certain labor laws, including the FMLR, in an accessible, commonly used area (an area where employees will see it). This preprinted notice may be obtained from the Maine DOL Bureau of Labor Standards (207-624-6400).