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Quick and Easy Guide to Labor & Employment Law: Maine

This state-specific guide covers labor and employment case law, statutes, rules, and regulations that HR professionals and clients often encounter or have questions about in Maine.

At-Will Employment

In Maine (with few exceptions), an employee is considered an at-will employee unless he or she is covered by a collective bargaining agreement or other contract that limits termination. Thus, an employer may hire or fire at will without notice and cause. Absent a union contract or individual employment contract, the employer is free to terminate an employee at any time and for any reason, as long as the reason is not discriminatory.

Right-to-Work Laws

Maine is currently not a right-to-work state. This means that generally Maine employees cannot be required to join a union as a condition of employment.

Immigration Verification

Maine places no additional employment verification procedures on employers beyond Federal I-9 compliance. There is no requirement to use E-Verify under Maine state law. The I-9 form must be completed within three business days of the hire date.

Drug Testing

Maine permits, but does not require, private employers to conduct drug testing of employees and applicants. An employer may not require, request, or suggest an employee or applicant to submit to a substance use test except in compliance with Me. Rev. Stat. tit. 26, § 683. Among other requirements, an employer must have an employee assistance program and a written drug testing policy prior to drug testing any employee or applicant. Related to Maine's marijuana laws, an employer may not refuse to employ any person older than 21 years of age solely because of that person's consumption of marijuana outside of work. 

Jury Duty Leave

An employer may not deprive an employee of employment, health insurance coverage, or threaten or coerce the employee with the loss of these items because the employee has been summoned to jury duty, responds to a jury summon, serves as a juror or attends court for prospective jury service. An employer may also not make deductions from pay for absences of a salaried employee occasioned by jury duty. However, the employer may offset any amounts received by an employee as jury fees for a particular week against the salary due for that particular week without loss of the exemption. 12-170-16 Me. Code R. § II.

Voting Leave

Maine does not have a law requiring an employer to grant an employee paid or unpaid leave to vote.

Parental Leave

The FMLA allows for eligible employees to take up to 12 weeks of work in a one-year period for pregnancy and or/childbirth. This only applies to employers with at least 50 employees. Covered employees must have worked at the employer for at least 12 months, and for at least 1,250 hours, during the 12 months immediately preceding their leave.

Maine also has its own Maine Family Medical Leave Requirements Act (MFMLRA). To qualify for MFMLRA the employer must have at least 15 employees, and the employees must have worked at their employer for at least 12 consecutive months. Me. Stat. tit. 26 § 844. Maine's MFMLRA provides for 10 weeks of unpaid leave in a 2-year period.

Leave in General

Maine became the first state in the country to require private employers to offer paid leave to employees, effective January 1, 2021. The law applies to employers with ten or more employees and covers employees who work at least 120 days per year for the employer. One hour of paid leave is mandated for every 40 hours worked, which may be used for any reason.

Smoking Laws

Maine's "Workplace Smoking Act of 1985" requires each employer to establish its own written policy regarding smoking and nonsmoking by employees in the business facility. The policy must generally prohibit indoor smoking to protect others from the detrimental effects of smoking. The policy can also prohibit smoking throughout the business facility, including outdoors. Violations will result in a fine for not more than $100 and not more than $1,500 for pattern of conduct and lack of good faith in complying.

Exception: A qualifying club may allow smoking in its business facility. It must also have its policies agreed upon by the employer, and employees and must provide written notice to the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention of the results of the vote within 30 days of the vote. The guidelines for a qualifying club are set forth in paragraph 9(b). Me. Stat. tit. 22 § 1580-A.

Break Time to Express Milk

An employer, as defined in section 603, subsection 1, paragraph A, shall provide adequate unpaid break time or mealtime each day to express breast milk for her nursing child for up to three years following childbirth. The employer shall make reasonable efforts to provide a clean room or other location, other than a restroom, where an employee may express breast milk in privacy. An employer may not discriminate in any way against an employee who chooses to express breast milk in the workplace. Me. Stat. tit. 26 § 604.

Meal Breaks

Maine has no law regulating meal breaks, but in regard to rest breaks, an employee may be permitted to work for no more than six consecutive hours at one time unless the employee is given the opportunity to take at least 30 consecutive minutes of rest time. The employee may use this time as unpaid mealtime, but only if the employee is completely relieved of duty.

This rest break does not apply to employers who have fewer than three employees on duty at any one time where the nature of the work done by the employee allows the employee frequent paid breaks of a shorter duration during the employee's workday. Me. Stat. tit. 26 § 601.

Minimum Wage, Overtime and Wage Recordkeeping

Starting January 1, 2020, the minimum hourly wage is $12 per hour. On January 1, 2021 and each January 1 thereafter, the minimum hourly wage then in effect must be increased by the increase, if any, in the cost of living.

An employer may not require an employee to work more than 40 hours in any one week unless one and one-half times the regular hourly rate is paid for all hours actually worked in excess of 40 hours that week. Me. Stat. tit. 26 § 664. An employer may not require an employee to work more than 80 hours of overtime in any consecutive two-week period. Me. Stat. tit. 26 § 603. The foregoing limitation does not apply to emergency care workers, essential services providers and other such employees. 

An employer shall keep a true record showing the date and amount paid to each employee pursuant to section 621-A. Every employer shall keep a daily record of the time worked by each such employee unless the employee is paid a salary that is fixed without regard for the number of hours worked. Me. Stat. tit. 26 § 622.

Final Payments

Any employee leaving employment must be paid in full no later than the employee's next established payday. Me. Stat. tit. 26 § 626.

Unemployment Insurance

For unemployment compensation benefits, see Me. Stat. tit. 26 § 1195. Unemployment benefits come from taxes paid by employers on wages of their workers. These taxes are put in a special trust fund that is used solely to pay unemployment benefits to workers who lose their jobs through no fault of their own. The benefits are intended to be temporary to help people with basic needs while seeking new employment. In many cases, unemployment benefits are available up to 26 weeks. The actual amount of benefits a person receives is based on wages earned during a specific time frame.

Workers' Compensation

An employee may be entitled to Worker's Compensation as set forth under ME Title 39-A.

Child Labor

A minor under 14 years of age may not be employed in nonagricultural or agricultural employment, except for the agricultural employment in the planting, cultivating, or harvesting of field crop or other agricultural employment not in direct contact with hazardous machinery or hazardous substances. This section does not apply to minors under 14 years of age employed in school lunch programs. Parents are prohibited from employing the parent's minor child in hazardous occupations. Me. Stat. tit. 26 § 771.

A minor under 18 years of age may not be employed in any capacity that is determined to be hazardous, dangerous to life or limbs, or injurious to the minor's health or morals. Me. Stat. tit. 26 § 772.

For minors under the age of 16 and minors enrolled in school, see Me. Stat. tit. 26 § 774.

Gun Laws

Regarding concealed firearms, an employer or agent of employer may not prohibit an employee with valid permit to carry a concealed firearm from keeping the firearm in the employee's vehicle as long as the vehicle is locked, and the firearm is not visible. An employer or agent of an employer may not be held liable in any civil action for damages, injury or death resulting from or arising out of another person's actions involving a firearm or ammunition. Me. Stat. tit. 26 § 600.

Marijuana Laws

Recreational and medical marijuana possession and usage are both permitted under Maine law for consumption by adults 21 years of age or older in private places. No employer is required to accommodate marijuana usage or to permit employees to possess or consume marijuana on workplace premises. ME Title 28-B § 112.

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Guide last updated July 2021.

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