Frequently Asked Questions
The frequently asked questions section addresses topics and specific questions that are often asked of the Department of Labor. Many additional answers to questions not addressed here may be obtained from other materials on this website or by calling the Department at 207-623-7900. Depending on the nature of your inquiry, you may need to seek legal guidance from private counsel on questions of your obligations under the law.
- What is the minimum wage?
The minimum wage in Maine is $7.50 per hour. Maine does not have a training wage or subminimum wage for students. Tipped service employees can be paid one-half the minimum hourly wage. However, if this rate plus tips does not average at least the minimum wage, the employer must pay the difference.
- I feel that I have been unfairly discharged. What can I do?
Maine is an "At-Will State," which means that if there is no union agreement, an employer may legally fire an employee without notice and without cause. However, an employer may not discriminate against an employee because of race, color, sex, sexual orientation, age, physical or mental disability, genetic pre-disposition, religion, ancestry or national origin. If you feel your employer discriminated against you, you can contact the Maine Human Rights Commission at 624-6290. If you feel you have been unfairly terminated, you can apply for unemployment compensation.
- Who can be placed on salary?
Only people who are working in an executive, administrative or professional capacity may be placed on salary and exempted from overtime. This includes managers, supervisors,and directors. Also,certain individuals who have a college degree for the work they do may be exempted.
- Is there a minimum amount salaried workers must be paid?
Salaried employees must be paid at least $455.00 per week.
- My employer has changed my schedule/hours/rate of pay -- is this legal?
Maine labor laws do not prohibit changing schedules or hours. The rate of pay can be dropped, but no lower than minimum wage.
- Does my employer have to provide me with paid vacation, paid holidays, paid sick leave, or paid health insurance?
Paid holidays, sick leave, vacation, and health insurance are not required. Upon termination of employment only, the employer must follow its own established vacation policy.
- Does my employer have to provide me with breaks?
Employers must give employees the opportunity to take an unpaid rest break of 30 consecutive minutes after 6 hours worked if 3 or more people are on duty. An employee and employer may negotiate for more or less breaks, but both must agree (this should be put in writing). No coffee, bathroom, or smoking breaks are required.
- Can my employer require me to take the 30 minute rest break?
- At what age can a child work?
Fourteen for most jobs with an approved work permit. Sixteen in most jobs in hotels, motels, manufacturing, bakeries, laundries, dry cleaners, garages, amusements, and theaters. Guide to Maine Laws Governing the Employment of Minors has more information.
- How does a minor obtain a work permit?
A work permit is required for anyone under 16. To get a work permit, the minor takes proof of age to his/her own superintendent of schools. The superintendent sends the application to the Wage and Hour Division of the Bureau of Labor Standards for approval. The minor cannot work until the permit is approved. A separate work permit is required for each place of employment. Minors can have one active permit during the school year and two during the summer.
- My employer is holding my paycheck. What can I do?
All earned wages, including vacation, are due on the next normal payday after termination. The employee must make the demand in person at the business. An employee who is denied payment, can call 623-7900 (TTY: Maine relay 711) to talk with a wage and hour representative.
- My employer has told me that any cash mistakes I make must be paid back. Can she do that?
An employer cannot allow or require an employee to pay back for shortages, damages, customer walkouts or credit card errors.
- My employer is verbally abusing/harassing me. Who should I contact?
If there is sexual harassment or illegal discrimination, contact the Maine Human Rights Commission at 624-6290.
- I work as an independent contractor. What do I need to know about labor laws?
The website Independent Contractors in Maine will help. It includes questions and answers as well as numbers to call for more information.
- What posters must be displayed at work?
The Maine Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division requires three posters -- Minimum Wage Summary, Labor Law Notice, and Whistleblower Protection. Employers can download and print copies of required state and federal labor posters at no charge. List of Required Posters
- How can workers find out more about their rights on the job?
The Maine Employee Rights Guide may be of help, or call the Maine Department of Labor at 207-623-7900 (TTY: Maine relay 711).