Friday, February 2, 2024

Governor nominates Windham resident for new Paid Family and Medical Leave Benefits Authority board

Maine Gov. Janet Mills has nominated 11 individuals to serve on the board of the Maine Paid Family and Medical Leave Benefits Authority and one of the individuals she nominated is from Windham.

Christopher K. Washburn
of Windham is the Manager
of Benefits and Leave
Administration at Retail
Business Services for
Delhaize America and
has  been nominated to 
serve on the board of the
Maine Paid Family and
Medical Leave Benefits
Created as part of the statewide paid family and medical leave program signed into law by the governor last July, the 15-member Maine Paid Family and Medical Leave Benefits Authority is responsible for overseeing the implementation and administration of the new program that will make available 12 weeks of paid time off to eligible public and private sector workers.

"I am proud to nominate each of these qualified individuals to serve on the Maine Paid Family and Medical Leave Benefits Authority,” Mills said. "I am confident that each will work hard to ensure that Maine's new Paid Family and Medical Leave Program serves its intended purpose of helping Maine people deal with life's unexpected challenges while accommodating potential hardships for Maine employers."

Among the governor's nominees is Christopher K. Washburn of Windham.

Washburn has served as Manager, Benefits and Leave Administration at Retail Business Services, Delhaize America since 2010. He previously supervised employee benefits at Hannaford Bros Co./Delhaize America from 2004 to 2010. He has extensive background in benefits and leave of absence administration design.

According to Mills, Washburn has been nominated to serve in the Authority seat reserved for a member with expertise in issues related to paid family leave benefits and paid medical leave benefits.

Each of the governor's appointments is subject to review by the Maine Legislature's Joint Standing Committee on Labor and Housing and Confirmation by the Maine Senate and each appointment is for a three-year term.

In addition to the 11 Authority members appointed by the governor, four seats on the Maine Paid Family and Medical Leave Benefits Authority are reserved for the Commissioner of Labor or a designee; the State Controller or a designee; the Commissioner of Professional and Financial Regulation or a designee; and an employee of the Department of Health & Human Services with expertise in foster care and adoption.

The Maine Department of Labor has announced that Luke Monahan has been hired to serve as Director of the Paid Family and Medical Leave Program. Monahan, a Maine native, most recently served as the Associate Director for the Division of Disability Determination Services with the Department of Health and Human Services, an office that was tasked with making the medical determinations of the Social Security Disability Insurance program. He is a graduate of Bowdoin College and Northeastern University.

"As someone who has worked with people with disabilities and marginalized populations for my whole career, as a working parent, and as the son of small business owner, I understand the importance of building a streamlined, transparent, and effective program for the Maine people," Monahan said.

Maine Labor Commissioner Laura Fortman said she looks forward to working with the talented people nominated to the Maine Paid Family and Medical Leave Benefits Authority and Monahan.

"There is much work to be done before the program is fully implemented in 2026, and I encourage everyone to engage in the process through the upcoming listening sessions," Fortman said.

Payroll contributions for the Paid Family and Medical Leave Program begin January 1, 2025. Benefits will be available beginning in 2026.

Beginning May 1, 2026, Maine’s new paid family leave law will allow Maine employees to take up to 12 weeks of family and medical leave benefits over a one-year period.

Its benefits will be financed by a mandatory “premium” based on employee wages of up to 1 percent, to be split evenly between employee and employer, with each bearing a maximum burden of 0.5 percent of weekly wages as a premium. Maine employers with fewer than 15 employees will not be subject to the payment of the employer’s portion of the premium, though they will still be obliged to collect and remit the employee portion. While coverage starts May 1, 2026, Maine employers and employees will initially begin paying the 1 percent premium beginning on Jan. 1, 2025.

The program will be administered by the Maine Department of Labor and will cover virtually all employees in Maine, including public employees except for employees of the federal government. Self-employed Mainers will have the option of voluntarily participating in the program,

Up-to-date information on the new Paid Family and Medical Leave Program, its rulemaking process, and upcoming listening sessions is available at /labor/pfml/. <

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