July 12, 2010
The Second Regular Session of the 124th Maine Legislature made a few changes to Maine law concerning employment and workforce issues. The following summary includes highlights of those recent labor law changes. For more detailed information on these new laws, please call the Maine Department of Labor at (207) 623-7900.
Vacation Pay Disqualification for Unemployment (Public Law 2010, Ch 638) Removes provisions in law that disqualified unemployed workers from receiving unemployment benefits for any week where the worker receives, is entitled to receive, or has received vacation pay.
Unemployment Conformity with Federal Trade Act Laws (Public Law 2010, Ch 466) Clarifies that earnings received as a result of participation in full-time training under the United States Trade Act are not considered wages for the purposes of unemployment eligibility if those earnings are equal to or less than their most recent weekly benefit amount.
Logging (Public Law 2010, Ch 637) Strengthens the “Proof of Ownership” law which requires logging companies employing Canadian loggers through the federal alien labor certification program (H2-A) to document ownership of the equipment to be used by the Canadian workers. Key changes include:
- The definition of logging equipment is expanded to include equipment used in the construction of logging roads and transportation over the roads.
- Employers requesting H2-A workers must now submit documentation for the equipment with the application for workers versus at the time of hire.
- A conviction for a violation may debar the employer from hiring H2-A workers for 2 years.
- Penalties are increased from $3,000 to $15,000 per violation to $10,000 to $25,000 per violation.
- H2-A workers will no longer be eligible for unemployment compensation benefits.
- Allows equipment leasing but strengthens the language to narrow what the lease can look like.
- Establishes industry clearinghouse for recruitment, to be monitored by MDOL.
- Requires the department to maintain a list of approved contractors and requires that landowners contract only with the approved contractors or face a fine of up to $50,000.