labor law guide
The Maine employment laws every business owner should know
Wages and breaks
The minimum wage for tipped workers is currently $6.38.
In Portland, the minimum wage for tipped employees is $6.50.
Employers are allowed to establish a required tip pooling or sharing agreement as long as it complies with the federal Fair Labor Standards Act’s regulations.
Non-exempt employees must be paid an overtime rate of 1 ½ times the regular rate of pay for hours worked in excess of 40 in one workweek.
The federal overtime rule stipulates that the minimum salary requirement for administrative, professional, and executive exemptions is $684 per week, or $35,568 per year.
According to state law, Maine employers are prohibited from requiring employees to work more than 80 hours of overtime in a two-week period.
Maine does not require employers to provide meal breaks.
Final paychecks in Maine
Maine laws require employers to pay employees who separate from employment for any reason (whether they are terminated, quit or resign due to a labor dispute) must be paid all final wages by the next regularly scheduled payday or within two weeks of the employee’s demand for payment, whichever comes first.
Maine child labor laws
14- and 15-year-old minors
Minors 14 and 15 years of age may work a maximum of 6 days in a row and in between the hours of 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. during the school year. The hours extend to 9 p.m. during summer break.
They may work a maximum of 3 hours on school days, a maximum of 18 hours in any week that school is in session at least 1 day, a maximum of 40 hours in any week when school is out the entire time, and no more than 8 hours a day when school is not in session.
16- and 17-year-old minors
Minors 16 and 17 years of age may work no more than 6 days in a row, in between the hours of 7 a.m. and 10:15 p.m. when school is in session, and up to midnight any night when there is no school the next day.
They may work no more than 6 hours on school days, except they may work 8 hours on the last day of the school week.
They may work a maximum of 10 hours on non-school days and 24 hours a week during school weeks, but 50 hours any week that approved school calendar is less than three days or during the first and last week of school calendar
They may work a maximum of 50 hours a week when school is not in session.
Maine exempts agricultural workers from child labor laws if minors are not in direct contact with hazardous machinery or substances.
Employers are not required to provide paid or unpaid sick leave but must comply with their own established policies in an employee handbook if they choose to implement one.
As of January 1, 2021, employers with at least 10 employees must allow employees to accrue one hour of paid leave for every 40 hours worked, with a maximum of 40 hours of paid leave per year. Employees can use the leave for any reason.
Private employers with at least 15 employees at one location are required to provide eligible employees up to 10 weeks, which may be taken for the following: When an employee or employee’s family member is a victim of violence, assault, stalking, or any other act that would support an order for protection; the employee has a serious health condition; to care for an employee’s newborn child or the employee’s domestic partner’s child; to care for a newly adopted child age 16 or less; to care for a child, parent, or spouse (or sibling, if they have common living or financial arrangements) with a serious health condition; to care for an employee’s domestic partner; to donate an organ for human transplant; the death or serious health condition of the employee’s child, parent, spouse, domestic partner, or sibling if it occurred while on active duty in the military.
Employers may also be required to provide employees unpaid leave in accordance with the federal Family and Medical Leave Act.
Employers are not required to provide paid or unpaid vacation leave but must comply with their own established policies if they choose to implement one.
Employers can establish a policy denying a pay out of any accrued vacation time upon separation from employment.
Employers can cap the amount of vacation time that may be accrued, and can also implement a “use-it-or-lose-it” policy that requires employees to use their leave by a set date.
Effective January 1, 2021, employers with more than 10 employees will be required to provide employees with one hour of paid leave for every 40 hours worked, up to 40 hours per year. It can be used for any reason.
If an employee successfully represented reasonable notice of their jury obligation, employers are not allowed to punish them for responding to the summons.
They do not have to pay the employee for time spent responding to a jury summons.
Private employers are not required to provide paid or unpaid time off for holidays.
Maine does not require employers to provide leave.
Employers are not required to provide bereavement leave.
Employers may not discharge or discriminate against an employee who is a firefighter because they take leave to respond to an emergency. The leave may be unpaid.
Employers must allow their employees who are members of the National Guard or reserves to take military leave. After their service, the employee is entitled to return to their job or a job with the same seniority and other benefits.
Employers that have at least 15 employees must allow an employee to take up to 15 days of leave while their spouse, domestic partner, or child is called to military service lasting longer than 180 days.
Hiring and firing
Federal law makes it illegal for an employer to discriminate on the basis of: Race, Color, Age, Sex, Sexual orientation, Gender, Gender identity, Religion, National origin, Pregnancy, Genetic information, including family medical history, Physical or mental disability, Child or spousal support withholding, Military or veteran status, Citizenship and/or immigration status.
Additionally, the state of Maine prohibits discrimination based on the following: Use of tobacco products outside the course of employment, past workers’ compensation claims, exercising rights under the Whistleblower’s Act, and wage garnishment for consumer debt.
Click here to read our blog on what acceptable and unacceptable questions to ask during an interview.
Maine is an employment-at-will state, which means that without a written employee contract, employees can be terminated for any reason at any time, provided that the reason is not discriminatory and that the employer is not retaliating against the employee for a rightful action.
In the case of layoffs or workforce reductions, Maine has the following requirements regarding closing, mass layoff, or relocation for employers that have 100 or more employees:
When closing or relocating a business, 60 days’ written notice must be provided to the following people: Affected employees, municipal officers of the municipality where the business is located, and the Director of the Bureau of Labor Standards.
When planning a mass layoff, written notice must be provided as far in advance as practicable, but no later than seven days before the layoff.
Employers must pay a severance of one week’s wages for each year worked, including partial pay for any partial year, to each employee who has worked there for three or more years.
Regarding employment and payroll data, under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and others, you must:
For at least 3 years: keep payroll records, certificates, agreements, notices, collective bargaining agreements, employment contracts, and sales and purchase records. Also keep completed copies of each employee’s I-9 for three years after they are hired. If the employee works longer than three years, hold on to the form for at least one year after the employee leaves.
For at least 2 years: Keep basic employment and earning records like timecards, wage-rate tables, shipping and billing records, and records of additions to or deductions from wages. Also keep the records that show why you may pay different wages to employees of different sexes, such as wage rates, job evaluations, seniority and merit systems, and collective bargaining agreements.
For at least 1 year: The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission says employers should keep all employment records for at least one year from the employee’s date of termination.
Other record-keeping laws that may apply to you:
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act, you need to keep records of job-related injuries and illnesses for five years. But some records, like those covering toxic substance exposure, have to be kept for 30 years.
You must keep files of benefit plans and seniority and merit systems while they are in effect and for at least a year after they end. You must also retain summary descriptions and annual reports of benefits plans for six years.
If your company is covered by the Family and Medical Leave Act, you must also retain relevant records of leaves, notices, policies, and more for three years.
Additional laws that may apply to you.
Healthcare workers, EMS personnel, and dentists must be vaccinated or be excluded from the workplace during the public health emergency.
Employers may not discharge or discriminate against an employee because they in good faith reported an alleged violation of the law between the employee and employer.. In addition, healthcare employers may not discharge or discriminate against an employee for reporting an alleged violation of the standard of care.
Employers may not test applicants or employees for drugs or alcohol until the Maine Department of Labor approves their testing policy.
Although recreational marijuana is legal in Maine, employers do not have to allow employees to use, consume, possess, trade, display, transport, sell, or cultivate marijuana or related products while at work.
Employers may discipline team members if they are under the influence of marijuana while at work.
COBRA is a federal law that allows many employees to continue their health insurance benefits after their employment ends. Because federal COBRA only applies to employers that have 20 or more employees, many states have adopted their own versions of the law, which are known as “mini-COBRAs.” Maine’s mini-COBRA allows employees to continue their coverage for up to one year. Each individual certification of coverage must contain a notice of the right to continue coverage.
Maine requires that employers conduct background checks on employees who work in childcare facilities or private security.
Maine has the same requirements for credit checks on applicants and employees as the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act. Additional information is available here.
Employers must pay their employees at least every 16 days at regular intervals. Employers must choose the paydays in advance and inform their employees. The payday must be within eight days of the end of the pay period. If an employee is absent on payday, the employer must pay their wages as if they were present. Employers must provide the following information with an employee’s wages: Hours worked; Wages paid; Date of the pay period; Itemized deductions.
The Maine Employee Social Media Privacy Act prohibits employers from requiring an employee or job applicant to: Disclose the password(s) to any personal social media account; Access their social media account in the presence of the employer;Disclose any personal social media account information; Add the employer or an agent of the employer to his or her list of contacts associated with the account; or change the account settings affecting a third party’s ability to view the contents of the account (i.e. change their privacy settings).
Employers that have 15 or more employees must have an education and training program regarding sexual harassment. New employees must participate in the program within their first year of employment.
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Remember, this is not official legal advice. If you have any questions about labor laws, it’s best to consult an employment lawyer.
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This summary is not qualified legal advice. Laws are always subject to change, and they can vary from municipality to municipality. It’s up to you to make sure you’re compliant with all laws and statutes in your area. If you need more compliance help, we recommend consulting with a qualified lawyer, checking with your local government agencies, or signing up for Homebase to get help from our certified HR Pros.