Wage and hour laws are established to govern the time employees spend working and the pay they receive for their time. These laws cover topics such as minimum wage, what employers must pay for, overtime, and breaks for meals and rest, among others. Understanding these laws is essential for employers to ensure they are in compliance.
Minimum Wage in Maine
In Maine, the minimum wage is $7.50 for each hour worked. This amount is greater than the federal mandated minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. Most employees in Maine are entitled to the higher state minimum wage.
Minimum Wage of Tipped Workers: Maine employers are permitted to pay workers who earn tips half of the state’s minimum wage, $3.75 per hour. This rate plus the tips these workers earn for the week must average the minimum wage, or the employer must make up the difference. Federal regulations operate on the same principle, allowing employers to pay tipped workers a lower minimum wage given their total earnings equal $7.25 per hour. Maine employers are beholden to the state’s laws, which are more generous to employees.
Does Minimum Wage Apply to Me: Most employers in Maine are covered by wage and hour laws. The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) extends coverage to employers who are involved in the handling, production and selling of goods for interstate commerce. Employees exempt from wage and hour laws in Maine include some agricultural workers, employees who earn sales commissions, and those who catch or farm fish. For more information about who is exempt and who is covered, refer to the Maine Department of Labor.
When are Raises Required: Maine’s wage and hour regulations do not cover pay increases. Rather, raises are based on agreements between employers and employees. Pay increases are generally contingent on factors including the quality of work performed and overall work production.
Work Hours in Maine
Neither Maine state law nor federal law set limits on how many hours employees can work in a day or week. All employees 18 and older are able to work as many hours per day and week as they see fit. Nurses are an exception to this as they cannot be forced to work more than 12 consecutive hours. After a 12-hour shift, nurses must have at least 10 hours off.
Paying Overtime: Maine overtime regulations specify that employers cannot force employees to work more than 80 hours of overtime in any consecutive two-week period. However, there are numerous exceptions. For instance, public employees, such as firefighters and law enforcement officers, are usually exempt from overtime laws, as are automobile salespeople and workers who process perishable food products.
Guaranteed Breaks and Meals: Under Maine’s wage and hour laws, employees must be allowed a 30-minute break after six hours of work, provided there are three or more people working at one time. Maine employers are not required to provide rest breaks beyond this. Nursing mothers must also be permitted unpaid breaks or be allowed to use their regular breaks to express milk for up to one year after giving birth.
Paid Time-off and Sick Pay: Employers in Maine are not required to offer their employees paid time-off or sick pay, and there are no federal mandates regarding these topics. Any agreements to this end are arranged by employers.
Notice Period for Employee Termination: Maine is an employment-at-will state. This means employers are able to terminate employment without notice or cause, unless a contract between employer and employee specifies otherwise.
Plant Closings & Layoffs: Under certain circumstances, employers in Maine must provide 60 days’ notice when laying off workers or closing plants. Although Maine has no specific laws relating to layoffs, employers must observe the federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act. Employers with more than 100 full-time workers are covered by the act, as are mass closings and layoffs.
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