Important Information from the Maine Department of Labor/Rockland Career Center

December 16, 2022

With a new year on the horizon, the Maine Department of Labor/Rockland Career Center is providing a link to the Maine DOL website, where you can print out the necessary Maine and US labor law posters: https://www.maine.gov/labor/posters/index.shtml

Most importantly, the Minimum Wage poster will be new for 2023, because the state’s minimum wage is increasing due to the annual cost of living adjustment that is written into state law. These posters can be printed in black and white, and should be posted where employees can easily read them. Remember that these posters come to you at no charge, although some people have tried to sell them to employers in past years.

The City of Rockland also has a new Minimum Wage law that kicks in with the New Year. Beginning Jan. 1, 2023, the city’s minimum hourly wage will increase from $13 to $14. In 2024 it will increase to $15. Then the increases will be tied to the annual cost-of-living. The city’s minimum wage only applies to businesses who employ more than 25 workers in Rockland. Although this law does not apply to most of you, we are sending it as a hint to find out if your town or city has its own wage law. Most don’t. Few employers are paying just minimum wage anyway these days, but the law does require that these posters be displayed.

Also, here below is a general summary of Labor Law changes for the New Year that is provided for your information by DOL. Happy holidays to one and all. All the best for the holidays and the new year.

In preparation for the new year, the Maine Department of Labor is reminding employers of upcoming labor law changes, such as updates to minimum wage and vacation payout.

Maine’s Minimum Wage to Increase to $13.80 Per Hour in 2023

Pursuant to Maine law (Maine statute Title 26, chapter 7, section 664), effective January 1, 2023, the state minimum wage will increase from $12.75 to $13.80 per hour, based on data recently made available by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics. Maine law, amended by citizen’s referendum in 2016, requires annual adjustments to the minimum wage based on the cost-of-living index (CPI-W) for the Northeast Region.

In addition to the minimum wage, the new “tip wage,” or service employee minimum wage, in 2023 will be $6.90 per hour. This means that service employees must receive at least a direct cash wage of $6.90 per hour from the employer. The employer must be able to show that the employee receives at least the minimum wage of $13.80 per hour when the direct wage and tips are combined at the end of the week.

The minimum salary threshold for exempting a worker from overtime pay is also based on the minimum wage. Starting January 1, 2023, the new minimum salary threshold is $796.17 per week, or $41,401 per year. This is only one of the factors used in determining whether a worker is exempt from overtime pay under federal or state law. An individual can earn more than the minimum salary threshold and still be eligible for overtime. The duties of each worker must be considered as part of this analysis.

The minimum wage and overtime law can be found here: http://legislature.maine.gov/legis/statutes/26/title26sec664.html. The Department also has more information available on its website at https://www.maine.gov/labor/labor_laws/wagehour.html.

Interpretive Guidance – Vacation Payout

Title 26, chapter 7, section 626, Cessation of Employment, was amended by P.L. 2022 c. 561, to address the circumstances in which vacation must be paid out upon cessation of employment. Beginning January 1, 2023, all unused paid vacation time that had accrued must be paid to the employee on their next regularly scheduled pay day after employment ends. This law does not apply to employers with less than 11 employees or a public employer. If employees are covered by a collective bargaining agreement that addresses payment of vacation pay at the end of employment, the collective bargaining agreement will determine if the unused accrued vacation pay is paid out at the end of employment.

This law change raised several interpretive questions about how the amended law interacts with Maine’s existing earned paid leave law. To assist employers and employees, the Maine Department of Labor published interpretive guidance addressing the interaction of the laws for vacation payout upon cessation of employment and earned paid leave.

The Departments guidance and answers to frequently asked questions can be found here: https://www.maine.gov/labor/docs/2022/laborlaws/BLSInterpretiveGuidancePolicy22-01.pdf

Other General Reminders:

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 employee’s 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 may include the payment of all unused paid vacation accrued after January 1, 2023. 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: https://www.maine.gov/labor/posters . You may also contact the Maine Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Standards at 207-623-7900 or bls.mdol@maine.gov.

The Department’s Bureau of Labor Standards is responsible for enforcing the state’s labor laws, such as minimum wage and overtime statutes, and ensuring that both workers and employers understand and comply with the law.

If you’re a worker who feels that your rights have been violated, or an employer who has questions or would like to know more about the Department’s free trainings, please call 207-623-7900, email bls.mdol@maine.gov, or visit https://www.maine.gov/labor/bls/

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Header Photo: Aidan Kaczynski of AKZ Photography

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