Maine

Labor Compliance Guide

Hours & Pay Regulations

Normal Working Hours

Unless specifically exempted, employees covered by the FLSA must receive pay for hours worked in excess of 40 in a workweek at a rate not less than one and one-half their regular rates of pay. This is referred to as overtime pay.

 

Employers who know or who have reason to know that an employee is working beyond the 40-hour work week, must account for those hours and pay requisite overtime. This includes overtime worked without pre-approval even when it goes against the company policy. Most employees covered by the FLSA under federal law and Maine’s overtime statute must be paid at least 1.5 times their regular rate of pay for any hours they work beyond 40 in a workweek.

 

An employer who requires or permits an employee to work overtime is generally required to pay the employee premium pay for such overtime work. Any employer, public or private sector, may allow a worker to adjust or flex his or her schedule within the work week so as not to go over 40 hours.

Overtime

Unless specifically exempted, employees covered by the FLSA must receive pay for hours worked in excess of 40 in a workweek at a rate not less than one and one-half their regular rates of pay. This is referred to as overtime pay.

 

An employer may not average a bi-weekly pay period in an effort to avoid the overtime requirement. If an employee works 45 hours during the first week of the pay period and only 35 hours in the second week, the employee is still due five hours of overtime for the excess hours worked in the first work week. Both federal and state law provide that most covered employees must receive overtime pay for hours worked over 40 in a workweek at a rate not less than 1.5 times their regular rate of pay.

 

The use of compensatory time (“comp time”) instead of overtime pay is limited to a public agency that is a state, a political subdivision of a state, or an interstate governmental agency, under specific circumstances. Compensatory time must be provided in the same ratio as overtime pay. Private sector employers cannot satisfy their overtime obligations by providing comp time and must pay overtime-eligible employees an overtime premium for hours over 40 in a workweek. Any employer, public or private sector, may allow a worker to adjust or flex his or her schedule within the work week so as not to go over 40 hours.

Breaks

Employers must offer employees the opportunity to take a consecutive 30-minute unpaid or paid rest break after 6 hours worked. An employee may waive his or her right to a rest break (preferably in writing). When the employer allows the employee to work through a rest break period, that time must be included as hours worked. Shorter breaks are common but not required by law. Such breaks or pauses away from performing duties may not be used to reduce the employee’s time worked.

 

Breast Feeding Breaks

Employers may not discriminate against employees who choose to express breast milk in the workplace. Employers must provide adequate unpaid break time, or allow an employee to use her paid break time, to express breast milk for up to three years following childbirth. The employer must make reasonable efforts to provide a clean, private place, other than a bathroom, for an employee to express breast milk. This applies to all employers.

Annual Leave

Employers are not required to offer paid vacations, holidays, or paid sick leave. These are benefits established by company policies specifying how they are earned as well as how or when they are paid. Under Maine law, only the accrued vacation time is required to be paid upon termination in cases where the employer’s policy specifically states that benefit will be paid upon termination.

Minimum Wage

Effective January 1, 2018, Maine’s hourly minimum wage is $10.00, and the direct cash wage to tipped service workers is $5.00, reflecting increases from the $7.50 hourly minimum wage and the direct cash wage to tipped service workers of half the minimum wage that was in effect in 2017.

 

Effective January 7, 2017, the state’s minimum salary requirements for exempting a worker from overtime is $519.24 a week, an increase from $455 a week.

Tips & Gratuities

Tips can be credited for up to 50 percent of the minimum wage, as long as employees are informed in advance, receive at least $30 per month in tips, and the cash wages plus the tip credit equal at least the minimum wage. If employees actually receive tips that are less than the tip credit, their employers must increase the direct wages by the difference. Tips are the property of the employee and are not shared with the employer. Tips that are charged to a credit card must be paid to the employee on the next regular payday, even if the employer is waiting for reimbursement from the credit card company.

Meal Breaks

In the absence of a collective bargaining agreement or other written employer-employee agreement providing otherwise, an employee, may be employed or permitted to work for no more than 6 consecutive hours at one time unless the employee is given the opportunity to take at least 30 consecutive minutes of rest time, except in cases of emergency in which there is danger to property, life, public safety or public health. This rest time may be used by the employee as unpaid mealtime, but only if the employee is completely relieved of duty.

Special Leave

Paid Leave

Employees employed with a private employer with 10 or more employees in Maine shall be required to provide “earned paid leave” to their employees. The Maine House of Representatives passed L.D. 369, An Act Authorizing Earned Employee Leave, by a 94–45 margin on May 8, 2019.  The act that passed the Senate and house requires private employers except seasonal employers or employees covered by a collective bargaining agreement that employ 10 or more employees for more than 120 days in the calendar year to provide 1 hour of paid leave for every 40 hours worked, up to a maximum of 40 hours of paid leave per year.

 

Earned Employee Leave Passed

Maine has signed into law “An Act Authorizing Earned Employee Leave,” the first law in the nation to allow employees to use mandated paid leave for any reason. The new law, signed on May 28, will take effect on January 1, 2021. Nearly 85 percent of Maine’s private sector employees will receive paid leave under the new law. The law requires Maine employers with at least 10 employees who work more than 120 hours in a calendar year, other than seasonal workers, to provide one hour of paid leave for every 40 hours an employee works. An employee can earn up to 40 hours of paid leave annually.

 

The law permits eligible employees to use the paid leave for any reason. Employees can start accruing leave on their first day of work but cannot use the leave until after 120 days of employment.

Family and Medical Leave

Employers with 15 or more workers and all public agencies must give up to 10 weeks of unpaid but job-protected leave, if:

    • A worker or the worker’s child, parent, spouse,
    • A domestic partner, domestic partner’s child, or worker’s sibling has a serious condition;
    • A child is born to the worker or domestic partner;
    • A child of 16 or less is placed for adoption with the worker or domestic partner;
    • The worker is donating an organ for a human organ transplant;
    • The worker’s spouse, domestic partner, parent or child, or sibling who is a member of the state military forces or U.S. Armed Forces dies or incurs a serious health condition while on active duty.
Family Sick Leave

If an employer’s policy offers paid leave (sick, vacation, compensatory), the employee must be allowed to use up to 40 hours in a 12-month period to care for an ill child, spouse or parent.

Employment Leave for Victim of Domestic Violence

An employee who is a victim of domestic violence must be allowed time off from work with or without pay to prepare for and attend court proceedings; receive medical treatment; or obtain necessary services to remedy a crisis caused by domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking. The employee must request the time off. Leave must also be allowed if the employee’s child, parent or spouse is the victim.

Jury Duty Leave

Leave is required but is unpaid. The employee must be reinstated to the same position after the completion of jury duty.

Voting Leave

A permanent employee may take an unpaid leave of absence to act as a legislator for one two-year term and must be returned to the position they left after the leave.

Military Leave

An employer that employs 15 or more employees shall provide each eligible employee up to 15 days of family military leave per deployment if requested by the employee. Family military leave under this subsection may be taken only during one or more of the following time frames:

          • The 15 days immediately prior to deployment; and/or
          • Deployment, if the military member is granted leave; and/or
          • The 15 days immediately following the period of deployment.

Family military leave granted may consist of unpaid leave.

Pregnancy Disability Leave

Employers must provide pregnancy disability leave to female employees if they provide such benefits to other employees. Employers also must allow employees to take leave for childbirth under Maine’s family and medical leave provisions.

Paid Sick Leave

An employee entitled to earned paid sick leave accrues the leave at a rate of no less than 1 hour of earned paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked. Accrual begins at the start of employment, but the employer is not required to permit the use of the leave before an employee has been employed for 90 days. The employer shall permit an employee to carry forward at least 40 hours of accrued earned paid sick leave to the following year, but an employer is not required to allow the use of more than 40 hours of earned paid sick leave in one year. An employer may provide all earned paid sick leave the employee is expected to earn in a year at the beginning of the year. Accrued earned paid sick leave may be used for the following:

      • An employee with mental or physical illness, injury or health condition or with the need for preventative medical care.
      • A family member’s with mental or physical illness, injury or health condition or with the need for preventative medical care.
      • If an employee or a family member is a victim of domestic violence or sexual assault.
      • Earned paid sick leave may be used in the smallest increment that the employer’s payroll system uses to account for absences or use of other time. An employee is not required to secure a substitute when that employee uses earned paid sick leave.

Notice Requirement

The request may be made orally, in writing, by electronic means or by any other means acceptable to the employer. When possible, the request must include the expected duration of the absence. When the use of earned paid sick leave is foreseeable, the employee shall make a good faith effort to provide notice of the need for the earned paid sick leave to the employer in advance of the use of the earned paid sick leave and shall make a reasonable effort to schedule the use of earned paid sick leave in a manner that does not unduly disrupt the operations of the employer.

 

Combined Paid Leave

An employer may meet the requirements by providing paid leave that may be used by the employee interchangeably as either sick leave or vacation time, as long as this paid leave is in accordance with the accrual of earned paid sick leave.

Last updated on: July 3rd, 2019