2012 Labor Law Update

Education Services for Blind or Visually Impaired (Public Law 2012, Ch 661)—Provides the funding to hire 2.5 teachers and specialists to provide required services to blind children and adults.

Evaluation of Working Conditions at Egg Farm (Public Law 2012, Ch 565)—Requires MDOL to evaluate employer/employee relations at Moark (former DeCoster Egg Farm) and report findings to the Legislature.

Definition of Independent Contractors (Public Law 2012, Ch 643)—Establishes one simple, consistent test that meets the requirements for both Unemployment and Workers’ Compensation.

Logging Workers (Public Law 2012, Ch 620)—Extends timeframes to produce paperwork and provide hiring notification of H2B workers from three to 30 days, simplifies process for hiring H2B workers, eliminates a non-functioning recruitment clearinghouse and creates a work group to develop training and ways to encourage workers to enter the logging trade.

Administration of Deaf, Hard of Hearing, Late Deafened Services (Public Law 2012, Ch 474)—Clarifies the reporting relationships within the Division of Deaf, Hard of Hearing and Late Deafened.

Overtime Pay for Truck Drivers and Helpers (Public Law 2012, Ch 681)—Conforms Maine law to federal law as it pertains to payment of overtime to truck drivers and driver's helpers.

Unemployment Benefits (Public Law 2012, Ch 645)—Clarifies consequences for unemployment fraud in the Maine criminal code with inclusion of a “three strikes and you're out” clause; tightens the requirements to obtain future unemployment insurance benefits from four weeks to eight weeks if an individual loses job due to misconduct; clarifies work search requirements to remain eligible for unemployment insurance; adds vacation pay back to the types of remuneration that offset unemployment insurance benefits; requires individuals to consider jobs that differ somewhat from their earlier employment after 10 weeks rather than 12 weeks and increases the earnings an individual must make after refusing suitable work, from 8 times to 10 times the maximum unemployment insurance rate, before the individual is eligible again for unemployment insurance. 

Unemployment Benefits (Public Law 2012, Ch 516)—Corrects a glitch in unemployment law so that individuals who did not contribute to a pension plan may receive an unemployment benefit reduced by the full prorated weekly amount of the pension received.

Unemployment Benefits (Public Law 2012, Ch 499)—Originated from LD 1117.  Changes the amount of time an employer may employ an employee without being charged for unemployment benefits from 5 weeks to 6 weeks and establishes a repeal date of March 14, 2014, for that change.

Minimum Wage for People with Disabilities (Public Law 2012, Ch 483) Updates verbage in existing law to say “person with a disability” rather than “handicapped person.”  Conforms Maine law with federal law by allowing a two-year instead of a one-year certificate.

Report on Livable Wage (Public Law 2012, Ch 569)—Allows the Center for Workforce Research and Information (CWRI) to prepare the report according to current, meaningful  methodology and allows CWRI to prepare the report only if the legislature provides funding to do so. (Previously this report had been an unfunded mandate.)

Apprenticeship (Public Law 2012, Ch 491)—Structures the Apprenticeship program under the Bureau of Employment Services, rather than the Maine Jobs Council, to comply with federal law. 

Workforce Training for Businesses (Public Law 2012, Ch 573)—Specifies that the efforts of the program are limited to the extent of available resources and changes the name to the Governor's Jobs Initiative Program.

State Workforce Investment Board (Public Law 2012, Ch 627)—Conforms state law to federal law; changes the name of the Maine Jobs Council to the State Workforce Investment Board (SWIB); renames the technical support group to Program Policy Committee; and adds two other committees to the board (one on older workers and one on veterans’ employment.)

Work Permits for Minors (Did not become law)—Simplifies the process for minors to obtain work permits by creating a general work permit which allows the minor to get the permit ahead of time for both summer and school-year employment.  LCRED held a public hearing and work session but decided not to move forward.  MDOL plans to reintroduce similar legislation in the 126th Legislative Session.