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Governor’s Address: Paid leave is a forward-looking policy that is good for our economy

Like most of you, I’ve known times when I was sick at work, or had to leave work to take care of a sick child, or had some other type of emergency that called me away from work. It’s not something anybody wants to do. We here in Maine have a good work ethic, we value our jobs, and we are proud of that.

But unexpected circumstances are a fact of life – and that is exactly why these emergencies should not break the bank for the working men and women in Maine.

So earlier this week, I signed bipartisan legislation to make Maine the first state in the nation to allow paid leave – not just sick leave – but paid leave for employees working for an employer with more than ten people.

Under this new law, businesses with more than ten employees will allow each person to earn one hour of paid leave for forty hours worked. That’s after you’ve worked there for four months. And, of course, employees will have to provide reasonable notice to their employers before taking leave.

Smaller businesses with fewer than ten employees, and seasonal businesses which operate for less than six months, are exempt.

As a result of this new law, about 85 percent of working Maine men and women will now have access to paid leave. At the same time, more than 40,000 out of our state’s 50,792 businesses will not be impacted.

So we’re leaving the small businesses alone, but providing paid leave to an enormous number of men and women in our workforce. This law provides economic and financial security to the vast majority of Maine working people, while also appropriately balancing the legitimate needs and concerns of employers, especially small businesses.

I think this forward-looking policy is good for our economy because the people of Maine who make up our workforce are our greatest economic asset. When we invest in them, and when we support the people and businesses who employ them, our economy succeeds.

I am proud to have negotiated and signed this bill into law, along with Republican Senator Stacey Guerin, Democratic Senators Shenna Bellows and Rebecca Millett, and many others on both sides of the aisle. I think it is a shining example of good governance.

It is good policy that resulted from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle negotiating and working together to find common ground. Nobody got everything they wanted, but we ultimately arrived at a solution that takes meaningful steps forward for the people of Maine. 

The result is a bill that is understandable, simple in its terms, and easily implemented.

This is how we can and should lead. It is how our state is leading the nation. And we are just getting started.

Thank you.

Janet Mills


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