2008 Labor Law Changes Bookmark and Share

July 2, 2008

Includes information about selected labor law changes from the Second Regular Session of the 123rd Maine Legislature.

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

  • Allows workers to take family and medical leave in the case of a serious illness or death of a sibling that shares joint living and financial arrangements with the worker.
  • Worker Clothing and Equipment
    Public Law, Ch 524

  • Makes technical changes to a law passed in 2007 that prohibits employers from charging employees for uniforms, protective equipment or other tools of the trade that are for the primary benefit of the employer.

  • Allows employers to do a payroll deduction for the cleaning and maintenance of uniforms, a practice that is allowed under Federal law.
  • Clarify Definition of Service Animals
    Public Law Ch 664

  • Allows town clerks to exempt service dogs assisting people with mental disabilities from an $8.00 license fee. Service dogs are already exempt from the fee for people with physical disabilities.
  • Amends sections of current law referencing “service dogs” to “service animals” to ensure consistency with protections provided under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
  • Specifies the right of businesses and landlords to prohibit service animals that present a risk of damaging property, creating a safety hazard, or substantially interfering with business.
  • Rate Setting for Forest Products Industry
    Resolve Ch 189

  • Temporarily suspends certain laws governing compensation rates for forest products harvesting and hauling services.
  • Requires Maine Attorney General to conduct a study of the statewide market for forest products harvesting and hauling services and to submit legislation implementing the recommendations.