Maine Employment Laws – Important Things You Need To Know!

Maine Employment Law

Some of the more important Maine employment laws are equal pay for equal work regardless of whether you are male or female, employees leaving the company voluntarily or involuntarily must be paid in full within a reasonable amount of time, and employees must be provided a break of at least thirty consecutive minutes once they work for six consecutive hours. These are just a hand full of the employment laws that Maine enforces; however, like all laws there are some exceptions to these and we will get into the details of the above employment laws in this article.

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Maine Employment Laws: Equal Pay for Equal Work

So, let’s talk about equal pay for equal work no matter if you are male or female. Let’s face it, discrimination happens in this world we live in no matter what we try to do to stop or limit it from taking place. Therefore, Maine, in an effort to stop or limit it has enacted an employment law that states any employer that discriminates by paying more wages to someone of the opposite sex for doing the same or similar work is violating one of Maine’s employment laws. In addition, Maine employment laws protect those employees that report an employer for violating this law.

As an example. if an employer began disciplining an employee after reporting them for violating this Maine employment law statute when otherwise they had a good employment work history with the employer may be cause to see if they have been retaliated against. On the other hand if the employee has a history of being disciplined and after reporting the employer for violating this statute it may be harder for the employee to justify retaliation. Of course that does not remove the fact that they must be paid the same wages for equal or similar work performed under the Maine employment laws.

Defining same or similar work can be a challenge all by itself. What exactly does that mean? Sometimes this is a no brainer if they are working on a factory line doing the same type of job requiring the same skill level. However, it can become convoluted when they are working in the same department but not doing the same type of work. Some of the things to take a look at would be does the job require a certain level of skill obtained from education, training, or experience? Is this education, training, or experience significant or just routine, i.e., two weeks of a correspondence course or a four year degree in computer programming. Without the training could the job be completed anyway? Therefore, the question becomes do they need that education, training, or experience to do the job or can they do the job without it but you have decided to pay them more because they have it. Tough question for an employer, and unfortunately not a specific answer! That is why Maine employment laws can become difficult to follow if you are not paying attention.

Wages Must Be Paid in Full to Those Leaving a Company within a Reasonable Amount of Time

What is reasonable? What seems reasonable to me may not be reasonable to you! Because of that Maine employment laws have defined what reasonable means as it relates to this employment law.  It states that all wages owed must be paid in full on either the next scheduled payday or not more than two weeks after leaving the company. Maine has stated that if the company has other forms of compensation such as earned vacation or commissions it is considered wages and must be paid also. Some exceptions to this would be if the employee was advanced pay prior to their leaving the company and there is a signed agreement for those advanced wages to be paid back. Those advanced wages can be withheld from the employee’s final payment. On the other hand if there is no signed agreement then that amount can not be withheld.  Finally, things like withholding amounts for uniforms or other company equipment can not be withheld.  That is considered a civil matter and must be settled differently through the legal system. The reason for this is there will always be questions as to whether this is truly owed or not.  

Break Time

Unless there is a collective bargaining agreement in place, or some other type of formal employment contract that agrees to something different, an employer must provide at least a thirty-minute break uninterrupted to any employee that works six consecutive hours unless they only work six consecutive hours. There are some exceptions to this such as for a small business that has three or fewer employees on duty at one time and by the nature of the job they have frequent breaks during their work day.  There is no clear definition of what is meant by frequent breaks. Generally speaking when there is no clear definition of something it falls back to what would a reasonable person define as frequent breaks? That is where it can become difficult

So, as you can see Maine employment laws seem clear but still in the end will take some thought as you try to conduct your business in an ethical and profitable manner. If a little red flag goes off in your head as you implement something that affects your employees in a negative way it generally means you better take a closer look at what you’re doing before you move forward. One law suit for violating an employment law, especially discrimination, could cost you a ton of money.  Good luck and May God Bless You!

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