Compliance Watch:
What are my rights as an hourly employee in Maine?

April 10th 2024

It is essential to comprehend that your rights as an hourly employee go beyond mere legal obligations; they serve as the foundation for your professional development and instill the confidence required to steer the direction of your career path.

The earnings you accumulate, as you clock in and out from work daily, have a prevailing influence on your position within the workforce. Given the differences in employment laws and policies from one U.S. state to another, you might be inquisitive about your particular employment rights to ensure adherence to your state’s regulations.

Therefore, this article has been thoughtfully written to answer your questions concerning various employment facets, aiming to furnish you with the relevant information needed to protect your legal rights throughout your employment tenure.

This Article Covers

Defining an Hourly Employee in Maine
Wage and Hour Regulations in Maine
Rest Laws in Maine
Deductions, Benefits, and Protections in Maine
Termination of Employment in Maine

Defining an Hourly Employee in Maine

What is Hourly Employment in Maine?

An hourly employee in Maine is characterized as an individual who receives a set wage for each hour they have worked. In general, Maine hourly employees have their number of working hours set by their employers. Hence, the working schedule of an hourly employee may vary from time to time depending on the employer’s discretion.

This highlights another defining trait because if an employer wants the employee to work more hours, they will have to pay them accordingly. More specifically, if Maine hourly employees work beyond a certain time threshold, that being 40 hours in a week, they must be paid 1.5 times their regular hourly wage for every hour worked over 40 hours. Consequently, this puts hourly employees at a financial advantage, as they can potentially generate a higher annual pay than salaried employees if they work in an industry that demands a lot of overtime.

However, while these characteristics are an advantageous aspect of hourly employment, these employees are also vulnerable to receiving a lower income or being completely terminated in moments of financial downturns or changes in legislation concerning employment. This is because the work nature of hourly employees makes it easier for employers to simply reduce their work hours until the business progresses than to fire an employee working in a salaried position.

What are the Key Differences Between Salaried and Hourly Employees in Maine?

Aspect Hourly Employees Salaried Employees
Pay Frequency Maine hourly employees are compensated per hour worked. Compensated on a monthly or bi-monthly basis. 
Overtime Laws Eligible to earn overtime compensation at the rate of 1.5 times the regular hourly pay according to state law. May not be eligible to earn overtime compensation at the rate of 1.5 times the regular hourly pay if they are categorized as exempt by state law.
Minimum Wage Laws Eligible to earn $14.15 per hour as fixed by the state’s minimum wage law. May not be eligible to earn $14.15 as fixed by the state’s minimum wage law if they are classed as exempt by state law.
Extra Employment Benefits  Less likely to receive employment benefits (such as health insurance and paid time off) as this is typically decided by the employer. More likely to receive employment benefits (such as health and dental insurance).
Rest and Meal Breaks Legally entitled by state law to be given a 30-minute rest break if they are scheduled to work for 6 hours in a day and if there are 3 employees on duty. Legally entitled by state law to be given a 30-minute rest break if they are scheduled to work for 6 hours in a day and if there are 3 employees on duty.
Financial Stability Poor financial stability as income is contingent on the number of hours worked and working hours are more likely to be reduced by employers in times of economic decline. Better sense of financial stability as the salary is given at a fixed amount and in regular intervals.
Career Advancement Opportunities Careers that have an hourly employment work structure are typically categorized at the lower part of the company hierarchy which makes it difficult to progress in their career. Typically have a higher chance to advance in their career (such as receiving pay raises and promotions) as their work nature usually allows them to take more accountability at their company.
Final Paychecks Entitled by state law to receive their final paychecks by the next regular scheduled payday or within 2 weeks of the employee’s request for payment. Entitled by state law to receive their final paychecks by the next regular scheduled payday or within 2 weeks of the employee’s request for payment.

To learn more about Maine labor laws, you can access our informative guides on understanding your rights as a salaried employee in Maine and discovering how to run payroll in Maine.

Wage and Hour Regulations in Maine

What are the Maximum Weekly Working Hours in Maine?

Implementing a strict weekly working hours limit is crucial for employees to prevent overwork, safeguard their well-being, and strike a healthy work-life balance while complying with labor laws. It protects both the physical and mental health of an employee while promoting fairness in employment.

While this requirement is recognized as a necessity, notably in Maine, there is no fixed maximum limit for the weekly hours an employee is required to work. However, in compliance with the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), employees who work over 40 hours a week are entitled to receive 1.5 times their regular hourly wage. With this in mind, it is generally assumed that the regular workweek comprises 40 hours.

However, exceptions to this standard rule may apply to employees in specific age groups or job categories. For example, a taxi driver working long hours to accommodate a tourist’s visit to Acadia National Park may not be eligible for overtime pay under state law. Similarly, a young employee under 18 may also be exempt from earning overtime, depending on their age and school schedule.

What is the Minimum Wage for Hourly Employees in Maine?

As of 2024, Maine’s labor laws have fixed its minimum wage at $14.15 for every hour worked. This is higher than the federal minimum hourly wage of $7.25. Hence, in adherence to Maine’s minimum wage laws, an hourly employee would typically earn $552 in every 40-hour workweek.

The phrase “minimum wage” denotes the lowest hourly pay that individuals can receive for their work. Minimum wage laws are implemented to ensure that hourly employees are paid enough to live a decent livelihood and upkeep their expenses. While the Fair Labor Standards Act has implemented the federal minimum wage to be $7.25 per hour worked, individual U.S. states retain the discretion to set their minimum wage to be higher than the federal threshold. This is exemplified in the State of Maine. 

Therefore, as an hourly employee in Maine, you have the legal right under state law to earn the minimum pay of $14.15. Although, not all workers in the state are eligible to earn this minimum amount. State law has notably exempted certain workers from earning the minimum wage. So for instance, if you are in need to make some quick cash and decide to work in your father’s store over the summer, you would be classified under state law to be exempt from earning the minimum wage as you work for, reside, and are financially dependent upon your employer who is a family member. To find out more about which occupations exempt you from earning the minimum wage, it is best to look into reliable sources such as Maine’s Department of Labor website for the latest information.

How Many Hours Qualify As Overtime and What is the Associated Pay in Maine?

Maine’s labor laws dictate that any hours worked beyond 40 hours in a week qualify as overtime, entitling Maine hourly employees to compensation at a pay rate of 1.5 times their regular hourly pay for those extra hours. Therefore, if you are an hourly employee working in Maine, you are legally entitled to earn $21.23 for every hour you have worked overtime, 

Working overtime hours is now considered a common practice among all workers in America. With such practice being normalized in the contemporary world of employment, it is evident why labor laws have implemented rules governing overtime. Overtime rules are designed to protect employees from mental and physical exhaustion resulting from overworking and to ensure compensation for their extra efforts.

Noticeably, in Maine, certain employees are exempt from earning overtime pay. These include the employees who process the fresh produce and perishable foods that you buy at your local grocery store and the mariners at sea. To see if your occupation is excluded from earning overtime pay, it is best to look into Maine’s Department of Labor website for the latest updates.

Rest Laws in Maine

What are the Offered Meal and Rest Breaks for Hourly Employees in Maine?

Rest and meal breaks are essential for all employees nationwide, offering a vital opportunity to reset themselves physically and mentally, reducing stress and fatigue, and enhancing overall efficiency and well-being for the latter half of the workday. Additionally, these breaks ensure compliance with labor laws, promoting fair treatment and a healthier work-life balance for hourly employees.

Interestingly, while work breaks are completely beneficial for employees in a multitude of ways, no laws at the federal level mandate its provision. Nevertheless, this absence of law does not mean its significance is diminished. Individual states in the U.S. retain the discretion to implement their laws regulating work breaks as they see fit.

In Maine, there are no laws enforcing the provisions of meal breaks. However, Maine’s Department of Labor does require employers to give employees an unpaid 30-minute rest break if they are scheduled to work for 6 hours with a minimum of 3 people on duty. Furthermore, employers are given the option to negotiate these conditions in writing with their employees.

Regarding the need for employees to take periodic work breaks to express milk for their child, state statutory laws protect nursing mothers in this regard. The law ensures that employees, who are lactating mothers, must be given an adequate unpaid break time or allowed to use paid break time to express milk for their child for up to three years after having given birth. Furthermore, the law requires employers to reasonably accommodate these employees by furnishing them with a clean, private room (that is not a bathroom) to express milk. These types of employees are also protected from being discriminated against by their employers for their choice to express milk in the workplace.

What Laws Govern Time Off and Leaves for Hourly Employees in Maine?

Guaranteeing that employees have access to required breaks and time off is paramount for their overall health and work efficiency. In Maine, an array of laws address different facets of time away from work, spanning sick leave to family-related emergencies. Below is a list of some of these important regulations:

  • Paid leave: With effect from January 1, 2021, if you are hired by an employer with a workforce of at least 10 employees, you must be allowed to accrue one hour of paid leave per every 40 hours worked, with a maximum of 40 hours of paid leave in a year. This leave can be used for any reason whatsoever.
  • Maine medical and family leave: Private employers with a minimum of 15 employees must grant eligible employees up to 10 weeks of leave which may be used for various reasons, including health issues, family care, and domestic violence support. Employees may also be granted unpaid leave in compliance with the federal Family and Medical Leave Act provisions.
  • Jury duty leave: If you are an employee called to respond to a jury summons, you cannot be punished by your employer for doing so, provided that you have given reasonable notice of your jury obligation.
  • Emergency response leave: If you are an emergency responder firefighter, you must be allowed to take unpaid leave to respond to an emergency without being terminated or discriminated against by your employer.
  • Military leave: If you are a member of the National Guard or reserves, your employer must allow you to take military leave with the entitlement to be reinstated to your previous job with the same seniority and other benefits.
  • Family military leave: If you work for an employer with 15 or more employees, you are entitled to use up to 15 days of leave when your spouse, domestic partner, or child is deployed for military service lasting more than 180 days.

Deductions, Benefits, and Protections in Maine

What are the Laws Regarding Pay Deductions for Hourly Employees in Maine?

As an hourly employee, it is crucial to understand the intricacies of pay deductions. In Maine, there are particular laws and rules set in place that dictate the timing and manner that these deductions can be made from an employee’s paycheck. These laws ensure that your earnings are safeguarded from improper deductions. Let us now take a look at how these laws apply.

According to the state’s statutory laws, employers in Maine are permitted to deduct wages from an employee’s earnings if it will be used to cover taxes, court-ordered garnishments, insurance premiums, retirement funds, loans, or advances that are given to the employee to pay for merchandise purchased from the employer or rent for a company-owned building.

However, the state laws further add that an employer is prohibited from withholding or deducting wages from an employee’s paycheck to cover items such as cash shortages, inventory shortages, faulty checks, faulty credit cards, damages to the employer’s property in any form or any merchandise purchased by a customer.

In addition to this, your employer must issue you a statement of wages along with every paycheck which outlines the date and pay period, hours worked, deductions made, and wages earned.

What are the Provided Hourly Employees Entitlements Under Maine State Law?

Work entitlements are an imperative scope of employment. These privileges are designed to establish a fair and just work environment, guaranteeing that employees are given benefits, wages, and protections they are legally entitled to. Additionally, these entitlements help to enhance the employees’ overall well-being and financial security, boosting job fulfillment and morale. Moreover, a sense of trust and loyalty is established between employees and their employers, resulting in employee retention and improved productivity. 

Maine, just like other U.S. states, has enacted a range of laws intended to support the rights of employees during their employment. The following list includes some of the many entitlements that state laws have granted to employees.

  • Minimum wage: According to the state’s minimum wage laws, you are legally entitled to earn the state’s minimum hourly wage of $14.15.
  • Overtime: Federal and state labor laws provide non-exempt employees with the legal right to earn overtime pay for working any hours that surpass 40 hours a week at an hourly wage rate fixed at one and a half times their regular hourly wage.
  • Worker’s compensation insurance: If you have sustained occupational-related injuries and/or illness arising out of and in the course of your employment, you may be eligible to receive workers’ compensation insurance benefits to cover the costs of aiding these injuries. 
  • Unemployment insurance benefits: If you have recently lost employment without any fault of your own, you may be qualified to receive unemployment insurance benefits to help financially support you for up to 26 weeks as you search for a new job. These benefits are calculated based on the wages earned during a particular period.
  • Extended health insurance benefits: The federal Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) allows employees to extend their health insurance coverage post-employment. Since this federal law is only applicable to 20 or more employees, Maine has implemented its version of the law which allows you to continue their health insurance coverage for up to a year. Every individual certification of coverage must include a notice of the right to extend coverage. 
  • Statement of wages: The statutory laws of Maine make it mandatory for employees like you to receive an itemized statement highlighting the deductions made from their earnings.
  • Pay practices: As an employee working in Maine, you are entitled to be paid every 16 days at regular intervals. Employees are also entitled to be notified if their employers have chosen paydays in advance with the right to receive wages on the scheduled date, even if they were absent on that date.
  • Severance pay: In instances of mass layoffs at a covered establishment, eligible employees are legally entitled to earn severance pay at the rate of one week’s pay for each year worked, and partial compensation for any years partially worked. For an employee to be eligible, they must have been continuously employed at the covered establishment for at least three years at the time of closing; must not be terminated with cause, and must not have accepted employment at another relocated establishment operated by the same employer, or is still hired by the covered establishment. A covered establishment hires or has hired a minimum of 100 employees at any given time in the last 12 months. Furthermore, employees must be given written notice of the proposed closing or relocation of the covered establishment at least 90 days before closing.

What are the Provided Hourly Employee Protections Under Maine State Law?

The state of Maine has numerous laws intended to safeguard employees and ensure they are treated equally with respect in the workplace. Let us now explore some of the many comprehensive rights legally granted to hourly employees in the state.

  • Social media information protection: According to the Maine Employee Social Media Privacy Act, employees are protected from disclosing their login detail(s) to any social media account that is personal; accessing their social media account in the employer’s presence; disclosing any social media account information that is regarded as personal; adding the employer or an agent of the employer to their personal account’s contact list; or changing the account settings to increase a third party’s ability to see the account’s contents.
  • Sexual Harassment policy protection: Uniquely, employers in Maine with more than 15 employees must provide an education and training program surrounding sexual harassment. New employees must take part in this program within the first year of commencing employment. 
  • Discrimination protection: Under federal law, it is unlawful for an employer to discriminate against an employee based on their race, color, sex, age, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, religion, national origin, pregnancy, genetic information, including family medical history, physical or mental disability, child or spousal support withholding, military or veteran status, citizenship and/or immigration status. In addition to this, Maine has forbidden discrimination based on the use of tobacco products outside of work, past workers’ compensation claims, asserting rights under the Whistleblower’s Act, and wage garnishment for consumer debt.
  • Whistleblower protection: Employees are safeguarded from termination or discrimination by their employer for reporting a perceived legal violation involving the employer and the employee in good faith. Additionally, healthcare workers cannot be discharged or discriminated against for reporting an alleged breach of the standard of care.

Termination of Employment in Maine

What are the Termination Laws for Hourly Employees in Maine?

Just like other U.S. states, Maine adheres to the employment-at-will doctrine. These laws typically state that employees can leave their employment at any time and for any given reason while employers are free to do the same in ending the employment of the employee. While these laws are broadly enforceable, there are specific exceptions to this doctrine that limit an employer’s discretion to terminate an employee in the event of particular situations. The exceptions are as follows:

  • Breach of contract: The existence of an employment contract, whether established in writing or through a verbal agreement, results in the employer losing their right to terminate an employee at their free will. Employment contracts typically define the valid termination reasons and procedures. This means that if an employer is lax in adherence to these contractual provisions, they may face legal actions taken by their employee. Therefore, employers need to remain aware of the employment contracts that they get into, to prevent such problems from arising.
  • Public policy: Several public policies exist to protect employees from being taken advantage of by their employers. For example, according to Maine’s laws, an employee who is a domestic violence victim is allowed to take unpaid leave to attend legal proceedings, seek essential services to address an emergency and access required medical care. The child, parent, or spouse of the victim may also use this leave. Employees are protected by other public policies such as being called to respond to a jury summons and those who serve in the military.
  • Retaliation: According to the laws in Maine and federal law, employees are protected from being terminated for exercising their legal rights. For example, employees cannot be fired for; participating in a hearing that pertains to dangerous or unfair work practices, reporting discriminatory acts to the appropriate agency, attempting to end discriminatory activities, or fulfilling a public duty.
  • Discrimination: Similar to federal law, employees are protected from being terminated by their employers based on national origin, mental or physical disability, sexual orientation, race, religion, color, or sex. Furthermore, employees with disabilities must be protected in the termination process and be reasonably accommodated in their employment by their respective employers.

Furthermore, Maine’s laws require employers to pay employees, who separate from employment for any reason (whether they are terminated, quit, or resign due to a labor dispute), their final wages by the next regularly scheduled payday or within two weeks of the employee’s demand for payment, whichever comes first.

Should Severance Pay Be Provided to Hourly Employees in Maine?

Severance pay, a financial compensation given by employers to departing employees, plays a crucial role in supporting individuals during their job transition and job search after unemployment. The specific amount is typically calculated based on the employee’s length of service with the company, often equating to one week’s salary for each year worked. While it is common practice for this compensation to be given as a lump sum, it can also be paid in multiple installments.

It’s important to acknowledge that severance pay, while a valuable employment benefit, is not mandated by federal or state laws. Instead, its provision is contingent on the mutual agreement between the employer and the employee. Consequently, if the terms of the employment contract or a collective bargaining agreement explicitly require severance pay, the employer is obligated to pay it to avoid potential breach of contract lawsuits.

Final Thoughts

In summary, it is evident why possessing a strong grasp of your rights as an hourly employee is immensely imperative. Being informed about laws surrounding termination, wage payment, leaves, employment benefits, and protections not only keeps you well-equipped to safeguard your well-being in instances of workplace infringements but also guarantees you stay ahead of the curve.

Due to the ever-changing structure of employment laws, keeping up to date with recent legal advancements in the employment field is equally essential, as this information is vital for making well-informed choices throughout your employment.

Important Cautionary Note

This content is provided for informational purposes only. While we make every effort to ensure the accuracy of the information presented, we cannot guarantee that it is free of errors or omissions. Users are advised to independently verify any critical information and should not solely rely on the content provided.