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September 27, 2007
The following includes highlights of recent labor law changes enacted during the first session of the 123rd Maine Legislature.
Note: This information is just an overview of select legislation. For more detailed information on these new laws, click the link provided to take you to the full text of the public law.
Training / Education
- Establishes the Competitive Skills Scholarship Program to provide access to education, training and supports to customers of the Department of Labor's CareerCenters to prepare them for high-demand jobs with good wages and benefits.
- Establishes the Competitive Skills Scholarship Fund. This fund receives payments from employers that are paid simultaneously with their unemployment insurance contributions. These payments are offset by a reduction in their unemployment insurance contributions. The net effect on employers of the fund payments and the reduction in unemployment compensation contributions is zero.
Unemployment Eligibility and Unemployment Taxes
- Eliminates the pension offset against unemployment benefits for persons who receive social security or any other pension or plan to which the individual made at least 50% of the contributions;
- Provides for the continuation of the unemployment compensation provision that permits certain people who are able and available for part-time work to receive unemployment benefits; and
- Reduces the benefit reserve cap on the Unemployment Trust Fund from 21 months to 18 months, giving employers a reduction in unemployment taxes for the first 2 years following implementation.
Minimum wage and overtime for certain domestic workers
- Clarifies that the minimum wage and overtime exemption for domestic service does not apply to domestic workers employed by for-profit, 3rd-party employers.
- Reduces from 50 to 15 the number of employees that an employer must have to trigger the requirement that leave be provided;
- Allows family members the option of using unpaid leave while the service member has returned on leave granted during deployment; and
- Expands the coverage by providing leave if the employee is a domestic partner, parent or child of the member of the armed forces when the member dies or incurs a serious health condition while on active duty.
Family and Medical Leave Laws
- Defines and adds domestic partners to the list of family members that employees may use family medical leave to care for.
- Amends the family and medical leave requirements to provide for intermittent leave for up to 10 weeks, as allowed by Maine law.
Severance Pay Law
- Expands notice provisions and provides penalties for noncompliance for employers covered by the severance pay law.
Substance Abuse Testing
- Allows employment agencies to request a written waiver from an individual already in Allows employment agencies to request a written waiver from an individual already in its employ or on a roster of eligibility to allow a drug test for a temporary placement, under certain conditions. or on a roster of eligibility to allow a drug test for a temporary placement, under certain conditions.
Work Uniforms and Tools of the Trade
- Provides that the cost of uniforms and tools of the trade and other materials and services incidental to carrying on the employer’s business and other costs of furnishing facilities primarily for the benefit or convenience of the employer may not be considered a “debt.”
Labor Laws at Automobile Dealerships
- Under the minimum wage and overtime definitions, automobile dealership finance and insurance employees will be considered “automobile salespersons.” Individuals employed as “automobile service writers” will also be exempt; and
- Adds qualifying language provinding that a person’s annual compensation must exceed 3,000 times the state minimum hourly wage in order to be exempt from overtime protection to the definitions of “automobile mechanic,” “automobile parts clerk,” and “automobile service writer.”
Tips for Payment of Service Employees
- Clarifies that tips belong to the employee providing direct service and that the entire tip charged to a credit card must go to the employee;
- Allows the pooling of tips in limited circumstances; and
- Increases the threshold to meet the definition of a service employee from $20 a month to $30 a month in tips.