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July 2, 2008
The Second Regular Session of the 123rd Maine Legislature made a number of changes to Maine law concerning employment and workforce issues. The following summary includes highlights of many of those recent labor law changes. This information is just an overview of select legislation. Unless otherwise noted, the laws take effect on Thursday, July 17, 2008. For more detailed information on these new laws, please call the Maine Department of Labor at (207) 623-7900.
Minimum Wage and Overtime Law Changes
Public Law, Ch 640 Lawmakers passed legislation this session increasing the Maine minimum wage from $7.00 per hour to $7.25 per hour on October 1, 2008 and $7.50 per hour on October 1, 2009. The measure will keep Maine in the same range as other New England states and prevents the Maine minimum wage rate from falling behind the Federal Minimum wage rate when the Federal Minimum wage increases to $7.25 in 2009.
The bill also removes minimum wage and overtime exemptions for public-supported nonprofit organizations and overtime exemptions for restaurants, hotels and motels.
Approximately 26,000 Maine workers have earnings at or below the minimum wage. Although a segment of minimum wage earners are teens employed at their first jobs, the majority of individuals making at or below the minimum wage are adult workers. According to national numbers from the U.S. Department of Labor, 74 percent of workers earning at or below the minimum wage are over the age of 19, and 24 percent work full-time or more.
Certain employers are exempt from paying the minimum wage. Tipped employees may be paid one-half the regular minimum wage provided the employer makes up the difference if tips plus the hourly wage do not average at least the minimum wage. The Minimum Wage Poster, which employers must display, lists additional exemptions.
Summary of Other Labor Law Changes
Family and Medical Leave for Siblings
Public Law Ch 519
Worker Clothing and Equipment
Public Law, Ch 524
Clarify Definition of Service Animals
Public Law Ch 664
Rate Setting for Forest Products Industry
Resolve Ch 189