October 25, 2023
For Immediate Release: October 25, 2023
Labor Law Updates
AUGUSTA- The final round of laws enacted by the 131st Legislature become effective today. These laws include amendments to multiple labor laws - the Department would like employers and workers to be aware of the below:
Protections from Retaliation for Maine Workers:
There is now a uniform anti-retaliation statute for all of Chapter 7, which regulates employment practices such as wage and hour laws. The new statute makes it a civil violation for an employer to take action intended to prevent or penalize a person from exercising their employment rights. This enables the Maine Department of Labor to assure workers that they can report potential labor law violations without fear of employer retaliation, which is often a deterrent that keeps people from advocating for their workplace rights.
Maine's Equal Pay Law Amendment to Prohibit Pay Discrimination Based on Race:
An employer may not discriminate between employees in the same establishment on the basis of race by paying wages to any employee in any occupation in this State at a rate less than the rate at which the employer pays any employee of another race for comparable work on jobs that have comparable requirements relating to skill, effort and responsibility.
An employer may not prohibit an employee from disclosing the employee's own wages or from inquiring about or disclosing another employee's wages if the purpose of the disclosure or inquiry is to enforce the rights granted by this section.
Severance Pay to Cover More Types of Employers and Include More Workers:
Originally adopted in 1979, Maine's statute regarding severance pay and notification only covered industrial or commercial facilities, which were prevalent at the time but no longer employ as large a proportion of Maine's workforce.
The new amendment increases access to severance pay for Maine workers by expanding this provision to workplaces outside of the industrial and commercial sectors. Read the law: https://legislature.maine.gov/backend/App/services/getDocument.aspx?documentId=99804
Timely Payment for Salaried Employees:
This amendment exempts members of the employer's family and salaried employees from the requirement that an employer pay in full at regular intervals all wages earned by an employee; removes the exemption for salaried employees from the requirements relating to the rate of pay and records regarding time worked; and adds S corporations and limited liability partnerships to the exemptions from the requirements relating to the rate of pay and records regarding time worked.
Parity in Tipping Laws for Restaurant Workers:
If an employer pays its employees the minimum hourly wage and does not take a tip credit, the employer may impose a tip pooling arrangement to include employees, such as dishwashers and cooks, who are not classified as service employees.
Prohibiting Noncompete Agreements in Veterinary Care:
The law prohibits an employer from requiring or permitting an employee who is a licensed veterinarian to enter into a noncompete agreement unless the employee has an ownership interest in the business and provides that a court may not enforce such a noncompete agreement entered into prior to the effective date of this legislation.
Other General Reminders:
Maine's Minimum Wage to Increase to $14.15 Per Hour in 2024 - More information: https://www.maine.gov/labor/news_events/article.shtml?id=11887762
Paid Family Medical Leave The Maine Department of Labor will begin the rulemaking process for a Paid Family Medical Leave program in the spring of 2024. Benefits are scheduled to begin in 2026. To stay informed, visit https://www.maine.gov/labor/pfml/.
Child Labor Laws - The Department wants to work with employers and young job seekers to ensure students know their rights and are safe and healthy both in the workplace and in school. More information: https://www.maine.gov/labor/schoolresources/
Earned Paid Leave - An employer that employs more than 10 employees in the usual and regular course of business for more than 120 days in any calendar year shall permit each employee to earn paid leave based on the employees base pay. An employee is entitled to earn one hour of paid leave from a single employer for every 40 hours worked, up to 40 hours in one year of employment. Accrual of leave begins at the start of employment, but the employer is not required to permit use of the leave before the employee has been employed by that employer for 120 days during a one-year period.
Time of Payment - Employees must be paid in full at least every 16 days. Employees must be notified of any decrease in wages or salary at least one day prior to the change.
Payment of Wages - Employees who leave a job must be paid in full on the next payday or within two weeks, whichever is earlier. This will also include all accrued Earned Paid Leave if established in company policy or in practice.
Unfair Agreement - Employers cannot require that an employee pay for losses such as broken merchandise, bad checks, or bills not paid by customers, nor for special uniforms and certain tools of the trade.
Rest Breaks - Most employees must be offered a 30 consecutive minute paid or unpaid rest break after 6 hours of work.
More information on these and other labor laws can be found here: www.maine.gov/labor/posters. You may also contact the Maine Department of Labors Bureau of Labor Standards at 207-623-7900 or email@example.com .
The Departments Bureau of Labor Standards is responsible for enforcing the states labor laws, such as minimum wage and overtime statutes, and ensuring that both workers and employers understand and comply with the law.
If youre a worker who feels that your rights have been violated, or an employer who has questions or would like to know more about the Departments free trainings, please call 207-623-7900, email firstname.lastname@example.org , or visit https://www.maine.gov/labor/bls/ .