2013 Labor Law Update

Strengthen Maine’s Workforce and Economic Future (LD 90  PL 2013, Ch. 368) - This legislation, which became part of the budget, creates the Maine Industry Partnership, expands the community college system to address the backlog in high-demand programs and creates a credit-transfer system between University of Maine and Maine Community College System. The Maine Industry Partnership (MIP) aligns education and training programs with industry needs to produce readily employable workers and to bring employers together in a collaborative effort to improve the competitiveness of individual businesses, the industry and the state’s economy. The MIP provides the foundation for the state’s demand-driven workforce strategy, one that is designed to meet the workforce needs of businesses, the career goals and training needs of workers and the economic development objectives of the state.

Correct an Inconsistency in Maine’s Apprenticeship Laws (LD 103 PL 2013, Ch. 5) - Repeals a provision of law that was in conflict with changes enacted in PL 2011, Ch. 491.  This change establishes payment of minimum wages under the Maine Apprenticeship Program.

Allow a Minor in the Police Explorer Program To Assist with Traffic Control at Civic Events (LD 605 PL 2013, Ch. 142) - Allows minors who are volunteer participants in a career-oriented law enforcement program to perform traffic control duties at civic events after receiving the required training to perform these duties, but only under direct supervision and only in accordance with a number of restrictions.

Include Raising Equines in the Definition of Agriculture for the Purpose of the Maine Workers' Compensation Act of 1992 (LD 696  PL 2013, Ch. 111) - Expands the definition of "agriculture" in the workers' compensation law by adding equine activity to the definition and clarifies the definition to make it clearer for employers. It applies to cases currently pending before the Workers' Compensation Board on the effective date of the Legislation, thus clarifying the definition for the Board as well.

Amend the Workers' Compensation Self-insurance Laws (LD 706  PL 2013, Ch. 172) - Provides flexibility to modify retention levels for self-insurance reinsurance accounts in response to medical inflation and other changes in circumstances, with approval of the Superintendent of Insurance. This law also revises the investment standards for self-insurance deposits and trusts to reduce concentration risk and other market risks posed by specifying a narrow range of permitted investments.

Clarify the Agricultural Exemption to the Workers’ Compensation Laws (LD 761 PL 2013, Ch. 87) - Reorganizes the text of the existing agricultural labor exemption for workers' compensation liability to provide more clarity in the law. This amendment also adds the spouses of parents, brothers, sisters and children under the definition of "immediate family members," not considered agricultural or aquacultural laborers.

Amend the Requirements for the Reporting of New Hires (LD 929  PL 2013, Ch. 279) - Current law requires an employer, upon notice by the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), to report the hiring, rehiring or return to work of an employee. DHHS transmits the information to the National Directory of New Hires, which is maintained by the federal Department of Health and Human Services. This bill requires an employer to forward the information, including the date the person starts work, within 7 days of the employee's beginning or returning to service, without being notified by DHHS. It provides a definition of "newly hired employee" that conforms to federal law, defining a newly hired employee as a person who has not been previously employed by the employer or who has been separated from prior employment by the same employer for a period of at least 60 consecutive days. This law places DHHS in compliance with federal law, provides clarity for employers and provides the Department of Labor with timely access to data that is needed to prevent unemployment fraud. 

Achieve Economic Growth by Enhancing Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (LD 1132  PL 2013, Ch. 410) – Authorizes and provides funding for the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Council to establish the office of executive director to provide leadership and management expertise that will assist the council in achieving its goals.

Revise Maine’s Unemployment Compensation Laws (LD 1250 PL 2013, Ch. 178) – Relieves employers from benefit charges to their individual experience rating record in a specific type of case: if the employer hired an individual to temporarily cover a position vacant due to a leave of absence for family medical leave [provided under Maine or federal law] and the claimant's employment was subsequently terminated when the permanent employee returned at the completion of the leave of absence. In this type of case, any unemployment benefits paid out because of this type of job separation would be charged to the General Fund within the Unemployment Trust Fund.

Encourage High School Students To Complete Community Service (LD 1290 PL 2013, Ch. 176) - Current law provides that high school students must be allowed to demonstrate achievement of diploma standards by presenting multiple types of evidence. This law adds community service to the multiple types of evidence.

Promote and Expand Awareness of the Educational Opportunity Tax Credit (LD 1300  PL 2013, Ch. 417) – Calls for the Department of Labor to require state and local workforce investment boards, and the Competitive Skills Scholarship Program, to include promotion of the educational opportunity program. It further provides that the educational opportunity tax credit is refundable for an educational opportunity program participant, or the employer of a qualified employee who receives any associate degree, and for an employer of a qualified employee who receives a bachelor’s degree in science, technology, engineering or mathematics, as well as for an educational opportunity program participant.

Amend the Laws Governing Unemployment Compensation To Ensure Conformity with the Federal Trade Adjustment Assistance Extension Act of 2011 (LD 1311 PL 2013, Ch.314) - Amends the laws governing unemployment compensation to ensure conformity with the Federal Trade Adjustment Assistance Extension Act of 2011, [Public Law 112-40, 125 Stat. 401.] It provides that 15 percent of a penalty assessment paid due to unemployment misrepresentation or fraud must be placed directly into the Unemployment Compensation Fund. It also prohibits an employer from being relieved of benefit charges for a benefit overpayment that was due to the fault of the employer or agent of the employer if that employer or agent of the employer has established a pattern of failing to provide timely or adequately requested information pertaining to an unemployment benefit claim. In addition, this bill corrects reference errors in the laws governing unemployment compensation to identify the Department of Labor as the entity that prescribes how and in what form an individual reports on that individual's work search and as the entity that determines whether good cause exists for an individual's failure to comply with the work search requirement.                           
Provide Integrated Community-based Employment and Customized Employment for Persons with Disabilities" (LD 1352 PL 2013, Ch. 335) – Codifies several activities into law to ensure that employment will be the first option discussed with parents and/or disabled persons. The intent is to promote a “can-do,” rather than an “I can't,” mindset among providers and persons with disabilities. Some of the activities: 1. Include, as a core component of those services and supports, the facilitation of the acquisition by persons with disabilities of integrated community-based employment and customized employment; 2. Offer, as the first and preferred service or support option, employment services that will support the acquisition by persons with disabilities of integrated community-based employment and customized employment; 3. Coordinate efforts to ensure that the programs directed, the funding managed and the policies adopted by each agency support the acquisition by persons with disabilities of integrated community-based employment and customized employment.

Amend the Labor Laws as They Relate to Payment for Required Medical Examinations (LD 1498  PL 2013, Ch. 363) - Provides that an employer may pay for an employer-ordered or employer-required examination of an applicant or employee through group health insurance coverage of the employee only if the employer pays 100 percent of the cost of that coverage. Current law provides that an employer may not require an employee or accepted applicant for employment to bear the medical expense of an examination when that examination is ordered or required by the employer.