Maine Overtime Laws

April 10th 2024

Maine overtime laws provide important protections for employees in the state regarding fair compensation for their work. These laws, encompassed within the broader framework of Maine Labor Laws, aim to ensure that employees are fairly compensated for any additional hours they work beyond the standard workweek. Eligible employees in Maine are entitled to receive overtime pay, typically at a rate of one and a half times their regular hourly wage, for each hour worked over 40 hours in a workweek.

This article will provide information to successfully navigate Maine’s overtime regulations, whether you’re an employer aiming for compliance or an employee defending your rights.

This article covers:

Maine Overtime Rates

The intention behind Maine’s overtime law is to safeguard employees against exploitation and unfair treatment by their employers, ensuring that they are appropriately compensated for any additional work they perform beyond the standard workweek. Employees who work over 40 hours per week are entitled to overtime pay at time-and-a-half (1.5) for every additional hour worked. 

Since the regular minimum wage in Maine is $14.15 per hour, this means Maine’s overtime minimum rate is $21.23 per hour. 

Overtime Entitlement in Maine

Both Maine and federal laws employ a three-part test to ascertain whether an employee is not entitled to overtime pay. This test consists of three criteria that need to be met:

  • Employees must receive a fixed salary consistently. 
  • Employee’s salary must surpass a specific threshold. 
  • Employees’ job duties need to satisfy specific criteria. 

Employers should thoroughly evaluate the actual job duties performed by their employees within the salary range that falls between the previous and new exempt thresholds. It’s important to consider the actual tasks performed rather than solely relying on job titles or descriptions.

Read more in detail about Overtime Exceptions and Exemptions in Maine.

Compensatory Time in Maine

Comp time refers to the practice where employers offer employees paid time off to compensate for working additional hours beyond their regular schedule.

In Maine, the option to use compensatory time, also known as “comp time,” instead of paying overtime applies only to public agencies such as state governments, political subdivisions of states, or interstate governmental agencies. Comp time is when employers offer employees paid time off to compensate for working additional hours beyond their regular schedule. Comp time must be given at the same rate as overtime pay. 

When it comes to accruing comp time, it’s important to take into account the following factors as well:

  • Comp Time is typically offered to employees who are eligible for overtime pay.
  • Employees who are mandated to report to work or stay at work during times of emergency work cancellation, delay, or early release may be granted Comp Time.

Comp time is usually accumulated at an overtime rate. However, in specific situations like working part-time or having alternative work schedules, it can be accrued at the regular rate.

Comp time typically requires a mutual agreement between the employee and the agency. This means that both parties must agree to convert overtime hours into comp time instead of receiving immediate overtime pay.

It is important to note that overtime calculation, whether it’s in the form of pay or comp time, is generally based on actual hours worked. The time spent in pay status without performing work, such as vacation, sick leave, comp time, or authorized leave, is not included in the calculation of overtime hours.

Limits on Mandatory Overtime in Maine

In Maine, there are limits on mandatory overtime which prevents employers from requiring employees to work more than 80 hours of overtime in a consecutive 2-week period.

There are some exceptions to the limits of mandatory overtime. The following can still be subject to mandatory overtime:

  • Work carried out in response to an emergency declared by the Governor under the Maine laws.
  • An employee performing essential public services (utilities, snowplowing, road maintenance, and telecommunications).
  • An employee who plays a crucial role in safeguarding public health or safety.
  • A salaried employee holds a genuine executive position and earns a yearly salary that is more than 3000 times the minimum hourly wage set by the state.
  • An employee who works for a seasonal employer (an employer in an industry that operates for less than 26 weeks in a calendar year regularly).
  • An employee working for an employer that temporarily shuts down operations for maintenance, construction, or repair purposes, including contractors involved in these activities.
Exception for Nurses

A nurse cannot be penalized for declining to work for more than 12 consecutive hours, except in urgent situations where mandatory overtime is necessary to maintain patient safety. If a nurse is required to work more than 12 consecutive hours, they must be given a minimum of 10 consecutive hours off immediately after completing the overtime.

After-Hours Email and Phone Calls as Overtime in Maine

When employees answer phone calls or check emails outside of regular working hours, it is considered work time and should be documented and paid accordingly. Employers need to establish clear policies regarding after-hours work permissions for employees. If employees violate these policies, they should receive counseling, but they must still be compensated for the work performed.

Overtime for Employees Under Multiple Businesses in Maine

If an employee works at multiple locations for the same employer, their hours from all locations must be added together within a single work week. If the total hours exceed 40 in that week, the employee must be paid at least one and a half times their regular rate for the extra hours. It’s important to avoid keeping separate payroll records based on location, as it may lead to failing to properly pay overtime.

Overtime for Tipped Employees in Maine

When an employer applies the tip credit for service employees, overtime pay is calculated based on the full minimum wage rather than the lower direct wage. The employer cannot claim a larger tip credit for an overtime hour compared to a regular hour worked.

Overtime Exceptions and Exemptions in Maine

Under Maine state law, certain individuals who work in “white-collar” positions are exempt from receiving overtime pay. White-collar exemptions refer to specific types of employees, such as executives, administrators, and professionals. 

To qualify for this exemption, employers must adhere to the salary requirements outlined in the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA):

  • Receive a fixed salary that remains consistent regardless of their work performance (known as the “salary basis test”).
  • A salary threshold of $796.17 per week or $41,401 per year applies to executive, administrative, and professional employees to qualify for the exemption.
  • A salary threshold that automatically increases each year alongside the minimum wage.
  • Employees must primarily carry out executive, administrative, or professional tasks, as outlined in the Department’s regulations (referred to as the “duties test”).

Statute of Limitations For Unpaid Overtime Claims in Maine

In Maine, if you want to file a claim for unpaid overtime, there is a specific time limit within which you must do so. Generally, the statute of limitations for overtime claims is two years. 

However, if your employer deliberately and knowingly violated the law by not paying you for the overtime hours you worked, the statute of limitations is extended to three years. This means that you have a longer period to take legal action against your employer and seek the compensation you deserve for the unpaid overtime wages.

Legal Cases Relating to Overtime Compensation in Maine

Below, we present law cases relating to fair overtime compensation for employees in Maine: 

1. Therapeutic Couple Not Provided Overtime Pay for Sleep Interruption During On-Site Work

In the case of Termorshuizen v. Spurwink Services, Inc., Sydney, and Patricia TerMorshuizen filed a complaint against Spurwink, a nonprofit mental health agency that provided services to individuals with disabilities. The complaint was regarding unpaid overtime wages.

The TerMorshuizens, who were employed by Spurwink, worked as a therapeutic couple in a residential treatment program. They were responsible for maintaining a safe and supportive environment, implementing treatment plans, and administering medication. They worked on a rotating two-week schedule, living on-site with the children. 

Spurwink had a sleep time policy that compensated employees for interruptions that called them to duty to assist a client. The TerMorshuizens argued that they should also be paid for other client interruptions that affected their sleep but were not included on the timesheets. The court determined that under Maine law, the term “work” was not clearly defined, so it looked to federal law for guidance. The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and related regulations defined what constitutes work and provided criteria for compensating sleep time interruptions. 

The court found that Spurwink’s sleep time policy was reasonable and in compliance with federal regulations. The TerMorshuizens were aware of and agreed to the policy when they were hired. The court concluded that Spurwink had met its burden of proof in demonstrating the reasonableness of its sleep time policy. Therefore, the court affirmed the judgment in favor of Spurwink, stating that the TerMorshuizens were entitled to overtime compensation only for interruptions during sleep time that required them to assist a client, for which they had already been paid.

Key lessons from this case:

  • Maine courts may look to federal statutes, regulations, and case law for guidance when terms are not defined in state law.
  • Employers may deduct sleep time from compensable hours if certain conditions are met, including reaching an agreement with the employee in advance.
  • Employers and employees can enter into agreements that outline specific provisions for overtime pay, as long as the terms are reasonable and comply with applicable laws and regulations.
2. Employee Failed to State Claim on Overtime Wages Due to Lack of Proof

In the case of Noll v. Flowers Foods Inc., Timothy Noll filed a collective action lawsuit against Flowers Foods, Lepage bakeries, and CK Sales (collectively called “the Defendants”). Noll filed this lawsuit on behalf of himself and other similarly situated individuals. The lawsuit claimed that the Defendants had misclassified them as independent contractors and denied them overtime wages.

The collective group consisted of individuals who worked as distributors for the Defendants. Noll sought recovery of unpaid overtime wages under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The Defendants filed for a summary judgment which the court denied. The court found that the distribution activity fell under the Motor Carrier Act (MCA) exemption to the FLSA. However, some members of the collective may still be entitled to overtime wages under the Technical Corrections Act (TCA).

Despite that, the court granted the defendant’s motion to decertify the FLSA collective action because Noll failed to provide sufficient evidence to support his claim and demonstrate that the small vehicle exception applied. The court emphasized that the burden of proof for the TCA exception fell on Noll, and he had not met that burden.

Based on these findings, the court granted the motion for decertification, dismissing the FLSA and declaratory judgment claims of the opt-in individuals. Noll’s FLSA and declaratory judgment claim was permanently dismissed because he couldn’t substantiate his eligibility for the TCA exception.

Key lessons from this case:

  • The court may consider the practical impact of an employee’s transportation activities on interstate commerce.
  • The MCA exemption can exempt certain distribution activities from FLSA overtime provisions unless an exception applies.
  • The TCA exception to the MCA exemption may allow distributors to claim FLSA overtime wages if they use personal vehicles for transportation.
3. Former Employee Alleges Court Miscalculated Unpaid Overtime Wages After Lawsuit Win

In the case of Avery v. Kennebec Millwork, Inc., Richard Avery appealed a judgment of previous a nonjury trial against his former employer, Kennebes Millwork, Inc. (KMI). He initially filed a complaint seeking compensation for unpaid overtime pay and unpaid vacation time. The trial focused on whether Maine’s minimum wage statute applied to Avery, and the court concluded that it did. The court awarded damages to Avery, but he appealed, claiming errors in the calculation of his damages.

The court found no error in the calculation of Avery’s regular hourly and overtime pay. However, it did notice a mistake in the calculation of underpaid wages for a specific period, and Avery was owed an additional $220. Regarding liquidated damages, the court determined that the trial court correctly awarded liquidated damages equal to the amount of actual damages for unpaid overtime. Avery claimed that double the amount of actual damages should have been awarded, but the court disagreed, stating that the specific statute under which Avery sought relief only provided for damages equal to the amount of actual damages, not double.

Avery also claimed that the court made a mistake in awarding interest. The court had chosen a five percent interest rate based on one statute, but Avery argued that a different statute should be applied. The appellate court agreed with Avery and stated that the correct interest rate should be the one-year United States Treasury bill rate plus three percent, as stated in the relevant statute. They instructed the Superior Court to recalculate the interest on Avery’s judgment using the proper rate.

Ultimately, the court affirmed the judgment with modifications, correcting the minor calculation error and directing the Superior Court to recalculate the interest on Avery’s judgment using the appropriate rate. The liquidated damages were deemed correct, and no changes were made to that aspect of the judgment.

Key lessons from this case:

  • Mathematical errors in the court’s calculations can result in adjustments to the final amount owed to the employee in an overtime lawsuit.
  • Different statutes may govern the awarding of interest on damages, and it is crucial to apply the correct statute based on the nature of the case.
  • Claims for unpaid overtime should be brought under the relevant provisions of the minimum wage and overtime compliance requirements.

Learn more about Maine Labor Laws through our detailed guide.

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.