Update on Minimum Wage Changes in Maine

Maine’s minimum wage is $7.50 per hour. The federal minimum wage is lower; Maine employers must pay whatever is the higher rate. A citizen-initiated referendum that would increase the state’s minimum wage to $12 per hour by 2020 will be on the ballot this fall. Legislation was recently proposed that would increase the minimum wage to $10 per hour by 2020. If approved by the House and Senate, that legislation will appear on the ballot this fall as a competing measure to the $12 per hour proposal. The House has rejected it; the Senate may approve it but it won’t go anywhere without approval by both chambers.

In the meantime, several municipalities have gone ahead and raised the minimum wage. The wage rates are not the same, which presents challenges to companies having employees in more than one location with a different rate than Maine law. In Portland, 2016 means a new hike in the minimum wage, and additional related requirements. Any employer who has a business location in Portland and employees who work in the City must comply with the new law. The new minimum wage, set at $10.10 per hour for all employees, comes as the result of a municipal ordinance passed in July of 2015.  The ordinance provides for a wage increase in 2017 to $10.68 and annual adjustments based on the Consumer Price Index for all years 2018 and beyond. These rates also apply to tipped service workers. Tipped workers must receive a “direct wage” of at least $3.75 per hour, and their direct wages plus tips must equal or exceed $10.10 per hour or the employer must make up the difference. Employers can find the ordinance here: http://www.govdocs.com/portland-maine-2016-minimum-wage/

In addition to the new rates, employers are required to post a notice informing employees of the current minimum wage rate. This notice can be found at the City of Portland website, at the following link: http://www.portlandmaine.gov/DocumentCenter/Home/View/11159.  Second, employers must post the nine-page ordinance itself in a location accessible to all employees. The ordinance is also available on the City of Portland website: http://www.portlandmaine.gov/DocumentCenter/Home/View/9390. Finally, the ordinance requires that employers provide each Portland employee a notice advising them of the current minimum wage along with the employee’s first paycheck in 2016.

In Bangor, meanwhile, the City Council voted in December 2015 to boost the minimum wage in Bangor effective the first day of 2017, when it will rise from the statewide rate of $7.50 per hour to $8.25. In 2018, the wage will increase to $9 per hour and, in 2019, it will rise to $9.75, increasing in subsequent years based on the consumer price index.

For questions about federal wage and hour issues, contact Patty Colarossi at Colarossi.Patricia@dol.gov or visit the WHD homepage at: www.wagehour.dol.gov. You can also call the WHD toll-free information and helpline at 1-866-4US-WAGE (1-866-487-9243) or use the DOL interactive advisor system – ELAWS (Employment Laws Assistance for Workers and Small Businesses) at: www.dol.gov/elaws.

This article is not legal advice but should be considered as general guidance in the area of employment and corporate law. Rebecca Webber is an employment attorney; others at the firm handle business and other matters. You can contact us at 784-3200 (telephone). Skelton Taintor & Abbott is a full service law firm providing legal services to individuals, companies, and municipalities throughout Maine. It has been in operation since its founding in 1853.