Maine Laws Governing the Employment of Minors

The publications of the Maine Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Standards are made available as a public service and reliance on any such informaiton is at the user's own risk. The Department, its agencies, officers and employees do not warrant the accuracy, reliability, completeness or timeliness of any information herein and may not be held liable for any losses or other consequences caused by any person's reliance on such information. The text included in this publication reflects the law and/or rules in effect at the time of publication, but is subject to change without notice. Contact the Department for updated information.

The Maine Department of Labor provides equal opportunity in employment and programs. Auxiliary aids and services provided upon request to individuals with disabilitities.

Telephone: (207) 623-7900
TTY: Maine relay 711
Fax: (207) 623-7934

Contents

Introduction
History of Maine Child Labor Laws
Poster
Work Permits
School Attendance
Legal Work Hours for Minors
A. Minors Under 16 Years Old
B. 16- and 17-Year Olds
C. Exceptions
Minimum Age for Employment
Maine Prohibited Occupations
A. Minors Under 16 Years Old
B. 16- and 17-Year Olds
C. Apprentice and Student-Learners
D. Junior Firefighters
Federal Prohibited Occupations
A. Prohibited Occupations
B. Farm Labor
C. Federal Contracts
Special Occupations
A. Child Actors
B. Agriculture
Volunteers
School-Based Learning Programs
A. Cooperative Education Programs
B. School-to-Work Programs
C. Internships
Employer/Employee Relationships
Enforcement of Maine Child Labor Laws
Comparison of Maine and Federal Child Labor Laws
Minimum Wage, Overtime, Recordkeeping and Other Labor Laws
Safety and Health
Discrimination and Harassment
A. Unlawful Discrimination
B. Workers with Disabilities
C. Sexual Harassment
D. Whistleblower Protection
Unemployment and Workers' Compensation Insurance
Drug Testing
Compliance Assistance
Frequently Asked Questions
Resources

Introduction

Youth Employment laws protect minors from working in unsafe or unhealthy conditions. They also ensure that work does not compromise the education of minors. These laws include:

  • minimum ages for employment
  • work permits
  • hours of work
  • prohibited occupations

Employers who employ minors (youths under 18 years old) must ensure that working conditions meet the requirements of all four areas.

This booklet provides general information on Maine youth employment laws (Title 26 M.R.S.A. §§ 701-785). The information in this booklet should not be considered as official statements or interpretations of the law.
Employers can obtain a complete copy of Maine’s youth employment laws from:
Maine Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division 45 State House Station Augusta, Maine 04333-0045 207-623-7900 • TTY users call Maine Relay 711

Maine Department of Labor
Wage and Hour Division
45 State House Station, Augusta, ME 04333
207-623-7900
TTY users call Maine Relay 711

Businesses may be covered by Maine youth employment laws, federal youth employment laws, or both. When both federal and state laws apply, employers must follow the law that provides the most protection for the minor.

Employers can learn if federal laws cover their businesses and obtain information on federal laws from:

U.S. Department of Labor
Wage and Hour Division
(603) 666-7716
www.dol.gov/whd/

By understanding and complying with the rules governing the employment of minors, employers, teachers, and parents can help ensure teens have safe and positive work experiences.

The Maine Department of Labor can help with information and training on the employment of minors.
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History of Maine Child Labor Laws

Maine first passed a child labor law during the industrial revolution when child labor and sweatshops were on the rise. The 1847 law addressed the amount of formal schooling a child must have in order to work. The intent of the legislation was to prevent the exploitation of children and to emphasize the importance of education.

Text Box:    Three boys entering mill to go to work at 5:30 a.m. Lewiston, Maine. Photo Credit: Lewis C. Hine  Truancy laws passed in 1887 required children under 15 to attend at least 16 weeks of school in a school year to work in manufacturing and mechanical workplaces.

Social reforms at the turn of the century focused attention on the conditions under which children were working. Maine began inspecting businesses for sanitation, hours of labor, and other conditions harmful to children.
In 1915, the Maine Legislature stipulated that children under 14 could not work during the hours that public schools were in session. The law also required working papers for children 14 to 16 years old.
The 1940s and 1950s saw great technological advances and business expansion. To protect children, the Maine Legislature enacted stricter youth employment laws. Recognizing the value of education to the growing economy, educational requirements for working minors were strengthened.
Changes to youth employment laws and educational attendance require­ments passed in 1991 addressed persistent problems of low graduation and high truancy and dropout rates in Maine schools.
The list of occupations prohibited for minors was revised in 2001 and again in 2003 to better protect minors from the hazards they face at work.*

Maine first passed a child labor law during the industrial revolution, when child labor and sweatshops were on the rise. The 1847 law addressed the amount of formal schooling a child must have in order to work. The intent of the legislation was to prevent the exploitation of children and to emphasize the importance of education.

Truancy laws passed in 1887 required children under 15 to atttend at least 16 weeks of school in a school year to work in manufacturing and mechanical workplaces.
Social reforms at the turn of the century focused attention on the conditions under which children were working. Maine began inspecting businesses for sanitation, hours of labor, and other conditions harmful to children.

In 1915, the Maine Legislature stipulated that children under 14 could not work during the hours that public schools were in session. The law also required working papers for children 14 to 16 years old.

The 1940s and 1950s saw great technological advances and business expan-sion. To protect children, the Maine legis-lature enacted stricter child labor laws. Recognizing the value of education to the growing economy, educational requirements for working minors were strengthened.

Changes to child labor laws and educational attendance requirements passed in 1991 addressed persistent problems of low graduation and high truancy and dropout rates in Maine schools.

The list of occupations prohibited for minors was revised in 2001 and again in 2003 to better protect minors from the hazards they face at work.

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Poster

Each employer must display, where workers can see it, a poster that summarizes child labor laws. The poster is available free from the Maine Department of Labor and can be downloaded and printed from the Maine Department of Labor web page: www.Maine.gov/labor/posters.

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Work Permits

Minors under 16 years old must obtain a work permit before beginning a job. This includes home-schoolers. They must get a new permit every time they begin a new job until they reach 16 years old, even if they work for their parents.

In order to apply for a work permit, the minor must be:

  1. enrolled in school;
  2. not habitually truant or under suspension; and
  3. passing a majority of courses during the current grading period.

Employers must have a stamped, approved work permit on file before allowing any minor under 16 years old to work.

Once the minor has the promise of a job, she or he must take proof of age to the office of the superintendent of schools. Parental permission is required to work.

The superintendent’s office will complete the permit and mail the forms and proof of age to the Maine Department of Labor. A copy of the Maine Work Permit Form can be downloaded here. The Department will review the permit to ensure that the minor is of legal age to work at the business and that the occupation is not hazardous. If the permit is in order, the Department will validate the forms, keep one copy and return two copies to the superintendent’s office (one copy for the school, one for the employer).

The minor cannot work until the Department of Labor approves the permit, which can take up to one week.

The Department of Labor issues permits for specific jobs with specific employers. Permits are not transferable to other jobs or employers. A minor under 16 needs a separate work permit for each place he or she works.

A minor can have one active permit during the school year and two during the summer. Upon leaving a job, the minor or the employer should return the employer copy of the permit to the Department of Labor so that it can be invalidated.

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School Attendance

Maine compulsory education law requires all students to attend school until age 17. The local school board must grant special permission for a minor under 17 years old to drop out of school.

classroom

A minor under 16 who has been granted such permission still must have a work permit; hourly and prohibited occupations restrictions also apply.

Hourly restrictions do not apply to 16- or 17-year olds no longer enrolled in school. Occupational restrictions apply to all minors whether or not they are enrolled in school.

Minors under 17 cannot work during the hours that school is in session unless they have the school’s permission for early release from school or they are in an approved program.

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Legal Work Hours for Minors

Employers must keep daily time records for minors. The records must show what time the minor began work, total hours worked, and what time the minor finished for the day.

Child labor laws specify how early, how late and how long minors can work. See below for details.

Following are the hours and times minors may work:

A. Minors under 16 years old

Work Hours

  • Between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. during the school year
  • Between 7 a.m. and 9 p.m. during summer vacations only
  • Not during school hours

Maximum Hours

  • 3 hours a day on school days, including Fridays
  • 18 hours in any week during a school week
  • 40 hours in a week with no school
  • 8 hours on days without school (during weekends, holidays, vacations, storm days, etc.)
  • No more than 6 days in a row

B. 16- and 17-Year Olds (enrolled in school, including home-school)

The Maine law which limits hours for 16- and 17-year-old workers includes several exceptions. Federal law does not limit work hours for 16- and 17-year olds.

Work hours (may work)

  • After 7 a.m. on a school day
  • After 5 a.m. on a nonschool day
  • Until 10:15 p.m. on a day before a school day
  • Until midnight if no school the next day
  • Minors under 17 may NOT work during school hours

Maximum hours (may work)

  • 6 hours on a school day;
  • 8 hours on the last school day of the week - there are some exceptions for co-op (work-study) students, and students with an alternative education plan with a work component.
  • 10 hours a day on weekends, holidays, vacations, teacher workshops
  • 24 hours a week in any week with 3 or more school days
  • 50 hours a week each week there are less than 3 scheduled school days or during 1st and last week of school year
  • May NOT work more than 6 days in a row

C. Exceptions

Students enrolled in an approved alternative education plan or an approved cooperative/vocational education program can work the daily or weekly hours required for the program without having those hours count toward the regular maximums allowed. For example, a 17-year-old student could work 15 hours under a cooperative/vocational education plan plus the 24 hours that the law would normally allow for a student under 18 years old.

The following are exempt from all of the State hourly restrictions:

  1. A minor employed in the planting, cultivating or harvesting of field crops or other agricultural employment not in direct contact with hazardous machinery or substances. (Federal child labor laws for agriculture are different. See Section IX. Federal Prohibited Occupations.)
  2. A minor working as an employed or in-training actor;
  3. A minor working at a children’s camp;
  4. A minor who is legally emancipated;
  5. Minors employed in fishing occupations or in the operation of ferries or excursion boats are exempt from the weekly and hourly restrictions only while school is not in session
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Minimum Age for Employment

Maine law states at what age minors may work in specific industries. Minimum ages under Federal law are different. Contact the U.S. Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division at 780-3344 (Portland) or 945-0330 (Bangor) for details.

Minors Who are 16 or 17: May work in nonhazardous jobs in manufacturing establish-ments, bakeries, laundries, drycleaning establishments and garages. They may also work in hotels; motels; commercial places of amusement, including skating rinks, circuses, arcades, bowling alleys and pool halls; and in all of the industries allowed for younger minors.

Minors Who are 15: May work in nonhazardous jobs in dining rooms, kitchens, lobbies and offices of hotels and motels, but they are prohibited from performing room service, making deliveries to the hotel rooms or entering the hallways to those rooms.

Minors Who are 14: May work in nonhazardous jobs in restaurants (if not on the premises of a hotel/motel), in sporting and overnight camps, stores, filling stations, ice cream stands and laundromats. They also may work at outside occupations on the grounds of a hotel or motel, but not if the minor must stay away from home overnight.

Minors Who are Under 14: There is no minimum age under Maine law to work in nonhazardous jobs in children's camps, hospitals, nursing homes, municipalities, domestic work in or about a private home or in the planting, cultivating or harvesting of field crops in agriculture. (Federal law does not allow minors under 14 to work in businesses under their jurisdiction.)

Minors of any age may work for their parents in non-hazardous jobs in nonmechanical and nonmanufacturing settings in retail or service industries (excluding hotels and motels) if they are supervised directly by one or both parents. Work permit requirements, hours of work, and prohibited occupations apply to minors even if they work for their parents.

Federal laws may not allow parental exceptions. Contact the U.S. Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division at 780-3344 (Portland) or 945-0330 (Bangor) for details.

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Maine Prohibited Occupations

Rules Governing Hazardous Occupations for Minors under Eighteen

Effective Date: May 14, 2001
Coverage: These rules apply to all nonagricultural employment and nonemployment situations. Non-employment situations include, but are not limited to, legitimate training and volunteer programs that ensure the safety and wellbeing of minors. These rules do not apply to minors in public and approved private schools where mechanical equipment is installed and operated primarily for the purpose of instruction.

A. Minors Under 16 Years of Age

Minors under the age of 16 may not be employed in the following occupations:
  1. Any manufacturing occupation;
  2. Any mining occupation;
  3. Processing occupations (such as filleting fish, dressing poultry, cracking nuts, or laundering by commercial laundries and dry cleaners, etc.) when performed in a processing industry such as a plant;
  4. Motor vehicle driving and outside helper on a motor vehicle;
  5. Operation or tending of hoisting apparatus or of any power-driven machinery other than nonhazardous office machines or machines in certain retail, food service, and gasoline service establishments;
  6. Construction occupations involving:
    a. Maintenance and repair of public highways;
    b. All roofing occupations;
    c. All trenching and excavation operations;
  7. (Federal law prohibits minors under 16 from doing any construction work.)
    All work in boiler or engine rooms;
  8. Outside window washing that involves working from window sills, and all work involving the use of ladders, scaffolds or their substitutes;
  9. Cooking (except where visible to the public) and baking;
  10. Occupations which involve operating, setting up, adjusting, cleaning, oiling, or repairing power-driven food slicers and grinders, food choppers and cutters, and bakery-type mixers;
  11. All work in freezers and meat coolers;
  12. Occupations involving the use of power-driven mowers or cutters, including the use of chain saws;
  13. All warehousing occupations, including the loading and unloading of trucks and use of conveyors;
  14. All welding, brazing, or soldering occupations;
  15. Occupations involving the use of toxic chemicals and paints;
  16. Selling door-to-door (except when the minor is selling candy or merchandise as a fund-raiser for school or for an organization to which the minor belongs, such as Girl Scouts of America) or work in a traveling youth crew;
  17. All occupations on amusement rides, including ticket collection or sales;
  18. Any placement at the scene of a fire, explosion or other emergency response situation. (See Section D. Junior Firefighters); and
  19. All occupations that are expressly prohibited for 16-and 17-year olds.

B. 16- and 17-Year Olds

Minors who are 16 and 17 years old may not be employed in the following occupations:
  1. Manufacturing and storing explosives;
  2. Motor vehicle driving and outside helper on a motor vehicle;
  3. All mining occupations;
  4. Power-driven woodworking machines;
  5. Power-driven hoisting apparatus, including forklifts;
  6. Power-driven metal forming, punching, and shearing machines;
  7. Slaughtering or meat packing, processing, or rendering occupations (this includes meat slicers, grinders, and choppers);
  8. Power-driven paper products machines, including balers and compactors;
  9. Manufacturing brick, tile, and kindred products;
  10. Power-driven circular saws, band saws, and guillotine shears;
  11. Wrecking and demolition occupations;
  12. Roofing operations;
  13. Excavation operations;
  14. All occupations in places having nude entertainment;
  15. Working alone in a cash-based business;
  16. In direct contact with pesticides;
  17. Placement at the scene of a fire, explosion, or other emergency situation except as provided in Section D. Junior Firefighters
  18. Gas or electric welding, brazing, burning, or cutting.
  19. Working at heights; and
  20. Working in confined spaces.
NOTE: The Maine Bureau of Liquor Enforcement prohibits teens under 18 from handling, serving, or selling alcoholic beverages. Exceptions: 15-year olds can handle liquor (for example, stocking and carrying) but not serve or sell it and 17-year olds can serve or sell liquor if a supervisor 21 or older is present. For more information, call Liquor Enforcement at 624-8745.

C. Apprentices and Student Learners

Under certain conditions, apprentices and student learners may work at the following prohibited occupations:

  • the operation of power-driven woodworking, paper products, and metal-forming, -punching and -shearing machines;
  • slaughtering or meatpacking, processing or rendering;
  • operation of power-driven circular saws, band saws, and guillotine shears;
  • roofing operations;
  • excavation operations; and
  • welding, brazing, and soldering.

To qualify for the above exemptions, the following conditions must be met:

Apprentices:

man with level
  1. Must be employed in a craft recognized as an apprenticeable trade and registered by the U.S. Department of Labor or Maine Department of Labor;
  2. The hazardous work is incidental to the training;
  3. The hazardous work is intermittent, for short periods of time, and under the direct and close supervision of a journeyman.

Student Learners:

  1. Must be enrolled in a course of study and training in a cooperative or vocational training program under a recognized State or local educational authority or in a similar private school program; and
  2. Must be employed under a written agreement that provides:
    (a) That the hazardous work must be incidental to the training;
    (b) That the hazardous work must be intermittent, for short periods of time, and under the direct and close supervision of a qualified and experienced person;
    (c) That both the school and employer give safety instruction; and
    (d) A schedule of organized and progressive work processes to be performed on the job.

D. Junior Firefighters

Minors who are under 16 MAY:

  • Perform nonhazardous duties at the fire station;
  • Ride in the cab of the fire apparatus responding to an emergency scene;
  • Attend training sessions. However, if the training is deemed hazardous, an instructor shall supervise the minor;
  • Participate in nonhazardous duties only within the rehabilitation area at the scene of an actual emergency.

Minors who are under 16 MAY NOT:

  • Perform any hazardous duties at the fire station;
  • Ride outside of the cab of any fire apparatus;
  • Perform any hazardous work at the scene of an accident;
  • Fight fires (except in training as above).

Minors who are 16 and 17 MAY:

  • Ride as a passenger in the cab of a fire truck or in an emergency vehicle;
  • With proper training, fight ground fires when they are directly supervised, except ground fires which involve an existing “crown fire” exposure;
  • Perform patient care (for which they are licensed) in an emergency vehicle or at the scene of an accident or other emergency.
  • Attend and take part in supervised training.
  • Participate in fire department functions wthin the rehabilitation area of an emergency scene. This could include setting up the engine, assisting in water supply efforts, and other support functions, which do not expose the Junior Firefighter to hazardous areas or atmospheres.
  • Pick up hose and clean up at the fire scene after it has been declared safe by the Incident Commander.
  • Enter a structure only when accompanied by an adult firefighter once the structure has been determined safe by the Incident Commander.
  • Perform search and rescue activities, other than structural firefighting.
  • Operate a fire pump located outside the danger zone at the direction of the Incident Commander.
  • Use pressurized hose lines if properly trained, under the direction of an Incident Commander, and out of the danger area.
Minors who are 16 and 17 MAY NOT:
  • Perform fire suppression involving structures or vehicles.
  • Drive fire department or emergency vehicles.
  • Respond with operating red lights (drive any vehicle, including their own car with attached operating red lights) to the scene of a fire or emergency.
  • Perform firefighting “overhaul” activities (except when the structure has been declared safe by the Incident Commander and then only with adult firefighter).
  • Respond to Hazardous Material events (except for support functions within the cold zone).
  • Perform any activity (except training) which involves the use of self-contained breathing apparatus.
  • Participate or assist in any extrication activities at the scene of an accident or emergency (except in the capacity of a support function).
  • Participate in any activities at the scene of an accident or emergency where fire is involved, unless they are performing support functions from outside the danger area.
  • Participate in actual “ice rescue” activities, but may provide assistance within any designated rehabilitation area or as a support member on dry land only.
  • Direct traffic at the scene of a fire or other emergency.
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Federal Prohibited Occupations

A. Prohibited Occupations

Under the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), 17 Hazardous Orders in Nonagricultural Occupations prohibit the employment of youth under 18 in certain occupations in certain businesses.

Maine prohibited occupations include most of the Federal prohibited occupations, as well as several prohibitions not covered by Federal law. Federal law prohibits youth under 18 from only a few occupations which Maine law does not prohibit, such as:

  • logging and sawmilling;
  • exposure to radioactive substances (prohibited in Maine under 16 years old); and
  • operating power-driven bakery machines (prohibited in Maine under 16 years old).

Employers who employ minors and are engaged in these activities should contact the U.S. Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division at 780-3344 (Portland) or 945-0330 (Bangor). Request WH Publication #1330 ‘Child Labor Requirements in Nonagricultural Employment.’

B. Farm Labor

A Federal Hazardous Order sets occupational restrictions for agricultural workers under 16 years old employed in the production of goods for interstate commerce. The order lists 16 prohibited occupations, including working with certain power-driven farm machinery, operating a tractor with over 2O PTO (power-take-off) horsepower and working with explosives or certain chemicals. Request ‘Child Labor in Agriculture’ (WH publication 1295) from the U.S. Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division at 780-3344 (Portland) or 945-0330 (Bangor).

The prohibitions on child labor on farms do not apply to minors employed on a farm owned or operated by their parents or to students in a recognized vocational education training program. In addition, exemptions are provided for 4-H members who have completed designated training programs and participants in other approved farm training and education programs.

C. Federal Contracts

In addition to the other prohibited occupations, youth under 16 may not be employed in the manufacture or furnishing of any article included in a U.S. Government contract in excess of $10,000 (Federal Public Contracts Act).

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Special Occupations

potato pickers

A. Child actors — Maine has no minimum age and no hourly restrictions for child actors, but they must have work permits if under the age of 16.

B. Agriculture — No work permit is required for field agricultural work. No minimum age, hourly restrictions or prohibited occupations apply in field occupations involving the planting, cultivating or harvesting of field crops under Maine law.

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Volunteers

Individuals may volunteer under certain conditions:

  • A volunteer cannot displace regularly paid employees doing the same tasks;
  • The work must be for charitable, religious, or humanitarian purposes; and
  • The volunteering must be done in nonprofit organizations only.

Minimum age and prohibited occupations rules whether the work is paid or voluntary. Minors do not need work permits for volunteer work.

Hours limitations do not apply to volunteer work. However, the Maine Department of Labor recommends that minors who volunteer be kept to the same hours limitations as minors who work for pay.

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School-Based Learning Programs

A. Cooperative Education Programs

Cooperative education programs (“Co-op”) are considered employment situations. Students are placed in businesses. A school coordprepressinator evaluates and grades them on pre-assigned job duties and training tasks. The employer must pay students at least the minimum wage and comply with all applicable State & Federal laws.
Under Maine law, the hours worked in these types of programs are not counted against the hours restrictions set for youth under the age of 18. (Federal laws are more restrictive for minors under the age of 16, regardless of school programs.)

B. School-to-Work Programs

When a school-to-work placement is an employment situation, the conditions are the same as for cooperative education programs. To qualify as a training situation, the following conditions must be met:

  1. Training must be similar to that which would be given in a vocational school;
  2. The training must be for the benefit of the trainee or student;
  3. The trainee or student must not displace regular employees;
  4. The employer receives no immediate advantage from the students’ or trainees’ activities;
  5. The trainees or students are not necessarily entitled to a job at the end of the training period; and/or
  6. Wages are not paid during the training period.

If any of these six conditions is not met, the situation is considered an employment situation and is subject to all labor laws. Minimum age and prohibited occupation coverage apply whether or not it is an employment situation.

C. Internships

An internship is allowed only in post-secondary education. The student receives credits while learning as part of a course of study. The student may or may not be paid a stipend (not wages).

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Employer/Employee Relationships

In most instances, an employment relationship exists when a person is allowed to perform work. (Maine labor law defines ‘employ’ as ‘to suffer or permit to work.’) Where there is an employment relationship, the employer falls under several State and Federal laws, including minimum wage, workers’ compensation, unemployment taxes, and payroll deductions for State and Federal taxes.

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Enforcement of Maine Child Labor Laws

The Maine Department of Labor enforces state child labor laws. Violations of child labor laws are very serious. Any violation of a child labor law is a civil violation subject to fines that range from $250 to $50,000 per incident.

It is illegal for an employer to fire, threaten, retaliate against, or otherwise discriminate against an employee for reporting a suspected child labor violation to the Department of Labor. Complaints may be filed with the Maine Human Rights Commission (624-6290).

Anyone can report a suspected child labor violation in writing to the Maine Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division or the U.S. Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division.

See Section XXIII: Resources for agency contact information.

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Comparison of Maine and Federal Child Labor Laws

When there is a difference between State and Federal law regarding child labor, the law that provides the most protection to the minor takes precedence. In most cases, Maine child labor laws provide more protection than Federal law. Several situations where Federal law is more protective than Maine law are noted in this guide. The U.S. Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division can provide details of Federal law.

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Minimum Wage, Overtime, Recordkeeping & Other Labor Laws

  • Beginning October, 1, 2009, the minimum wage is $7.50 per hour.
  • Maine does not have a training wage or student wage below the minimum.
  • Tipped employees must be paid at least one-half the minimum wage. If this rate plus tips for the week do not average the minimum wage, the employwaitresser must pay the difference.
  • Each employee must receive a pay statement with each payment of wages showing the date of the pay period, hours worked, total wages paid, and itemized deductions.
  • Employees get overtime pay of 1 1/2 times their hourly rate after 40 hours of work per week. This applies to most employees. A poster stating these rules must be shown in the workplace.
  • Employers must keep daily time records for minors. The records must show what time the minor began work, total hours worked, total wages paid and itemized deductions.
  • Employees must be offered a 30-minute break for every six hours worked.
  • Employers must pay wages to employees on an established day or date at regular intervals of no more than 16 days.
  • Employees must be paid for the work performed. Employees who leave a job must be paid in full within a reasonable time.
  • Employers cannot deduct from an employee’s pay for things such as broken merchandise or bills not paid by customers.
  • Maine is an “at will” state. An employee may be fired for any reason not prohibited by law unless he or she is covered by a collective bargaining agreement or other contract that limits firing.
  • Employers may not discriminate on the basis of gender by paying a rate less than the rate paid an employee of the opposite sex for comparable work.
  • “Cash under the table” is not legal.
  • Most of the wage laws do not apply to agriculture.
  • An employer who violates employment laws may have to pay penalties, additional wages and lawyers’ fees.
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Safety and Health

Employers must maintain safe and healthful work environments. State of Maine and Federal occupational safety and health regulations apply to employees regardless of age. Employers must train all employees about the hazards of their jobs and how to do their jobs safely.

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Discrimination and Harassment

A. Unlawful discrimination

Employers must not discriminate against workers of any age because of race, color, sex, sexual orientation, age, physical or mental disability, genetic pre-disposition, religion, ancestry or national origin.

B. Workers with Disabilities

The Federal Americans with Disabilities Act and the Maine Human Rights Act protect workers who have disabilities. Employers may not discriminate against workers with disabilities in hiring or firing. Employers must make reasonable accommodations for such workers’ disabilities.

C. Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment on the job is against the law. Retaliation for complaining about sexual harassment is also against the law.

D. Whistleblower Protection

It is against the law for an employer to fire, threaten, retaliate or discriminate against an employee for:

  • Reporting a law violation;
  • Reporting a risk to health or safety;
  • Refusing to do something that was life-threatening, after asking the employer to correct the problem;
  • Being part of a government investigation; or
  • Reporting a medical error if you are a healthcare worker.

The law applies only if the employee tells the employer about the problem and allows time for it to be fixed or if the employee has good reason to believe the employer will not correct the problem.

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Unemployment and Workers’ Compensation Insurance

Unemployment insurance law provides for payment of benefits to qualified workers during periods of unemployment regardless of age.

Workers’ compensation insurance gives benefits to workers who get hurt on the job regardless of age.

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Drug Testing

Employers can ask workers to take drug tests if Federal law requires it or if the company has a drug policy approved by the Maine Department of Labor.

Under the law, an employer can use a positive test result to:

  • refuse to hire someone
  • fire an employee (in some instances)
  • discipline an employee (in some instances)
  • change an employee’s work (in some instances)

Those who apply for jobs may be tested only if they are offered work or are placed on a waiting list for a job. Employers who test under the law must give those tested a copy of the policy prior to the test.

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Compliance Assistance

The Maine Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division helps employers comply with child labor laws.

The Maine Department of Labor SafetyWorks! program helps employers with occupational safety and health.
Safeteen, a program of the Maine Department of Labor, provides training for minors, employers and educators on workplace safety and health and child labor laws. The free Safeteen kit includes training booklets, posters, and wallet cards.

See Section XXIII: Resources for agency contact information.

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Frequently Asked Questions about Child Labor Laws

Q. Can a 16- or 17-year old who has quit school work more than four hours per day or 20 hours per week?
A. If the 16-year-old minor has been allowed to drop out of school, the hourly restrictions no longer apply. If a 17-year-old minor is no longer enrolled in school, the hourly restrictions no longer apply. The employer should obtain a letter from the superintendent of schools stating that the child is no longer enrolled in school and, if under 17, that he or she has been waived from compulsory education laws.

Q. If a 16- or 17-year-old minor is working toward a High School Equivalency Diploma, are his or her working hours restricted when school is in session?
A. If the minor has dropped out of the traditional school setting and is no longer “enrolled,” the hourly restrictions no longer apply. Again, the employer should get written confirmation from the superintendent that the minor has been allowed to drop out of school.

Q. Do child labor laws apply to 18-year olds who are still in high school?
A. No. Once a minor turns 18, none of the child labor laws apply, even if the person is still a student.

Q. Are the child labor laws any different if you are hiring your own son or daughter?
A. Work permit requirements, hours limitations and prohibited occupations rules apply even when hiring family members.

Q. Do OSHA regulations apply to minors?
A. Yes. OSHA regulations apply to workers regardless of age.

Q. If an employer complies with Maine law, does that guarantee compliance with Federal law, or vice versa?
A. Not in all cases. The law that is most restrictive and protects the employee the most is the one that applies.

Q. Can 14- or 15-year olds have more than one job?
A. 14- and 15-year olds need work permits in order to work. They are allowed one work permit during the school year and two in the summer.

Q. If a 14- or 15-year old changes jobs, does he or she need a new work permit?
A. Yes. A work permit is valid only for the occupation and business for which it is approved.

Q. What is the employer’s responsibility regarding work permits?
A. The employer must keep the approved copy of the work permit on file. Once the child is no longer working, the employer’s copy should be returned to the Maine Department of Labor.

Q. What cooking may minors under 16 years old do?
A. In most instances, minors may cook at soda fountains, lunch counters, snack bars or cafeteria serving counters if the public can view the cooking areas. Minors under 16 may not cook if the cooking area is away from the view of the public. Minors under 16 cannot bake or use ovens, including pizza ovens and convection ovens.

Q. What is considered a manufacturing occupation for child labor law purposes?
A. A process that changes the original product can be considered manufacturing. Child labor laws prohibit minors under 16 years old from working in processing or manufacturing areas except for waiting on customers or performing office work in a separate room.

Q. Can minors work at a water slide, a ski area, or a boat rental?
A. Minors under 16 years old may not work at a water slide because it is considered an amusement. Ski areas and boat rentals are considered recreation, so minors may work there.

Q. Minors under 18 years old are not allowed to work alone at a cash-based business. What is a cash-based business? What does working alone mean?
A. A cash-based business is any business which takes most of its daily receipts in cash. A minor can work alone at the cash register if there is another worker on the premises (e.g., in the next room). Two minors can work together at a cash-based business with no adult present.

Q. Who is considered a “junior firefighter?”
A. According to Maine law, anyone under 18 who is working as a firefighter or training to become a firefighter is considered a junior firefighter.

Q. Is the Boy Scout Explorer program covered by the junior firefighter rules?
A. If the program includes a junior firefighting program, all of the junior firefighter rules apply.

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Resources

Child labor laws, wages, hiring and firing:

Maine Department of Labor
(enforces Maine child labor laws)
Bureau of Labor Standards
Wage and Hour Division
623-7900
(TTY: Maine relay 711)
E-mail: webmaster.bls@maine.gov
web site: www.Maine.gov/labor/bls

U.S. Department of Labor
(enforces Federal child labor laws)
Wage and Hour Division
780-3344 (Portland) or 945-0330 (Bangor)
web site: www.dol.gov/

Workplace health and safety:

SafetyWorks!
Maine Department of Labor
623-7900 or 1-877-SAFE-345
(TTY: Maine relay 711)
E-mail: webmaster.bls@Maine.gov
web site: www.safetyworksmaine.com

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)
626-9160 (Augusta) or 941-8177 (Bangor)
web site: www.osha.gov/

Workers’ Compensation:

Maine Workers’ Compensation Board
287-2308 (TTY: Maine relay 711):

Local Offices:
Augusta 1-800-400-6854
Caribou 1-800-400-6855
Bangor 1-800-400-6856
Lewiston 1-800-400-6857
Portland 1-800-400-6858
web site:www.maine.gov/wcb/

Unemployment Insurance:

Unemployment Call Center System:
1-800-593-7660
web site: www.maine.gov/labor/unemployment/

Unlawful discrimination, sexual harassment, or the protection of workers with disabilities:

Maine Human Rights Commission
web site: www.maine.gov/mhrc/

U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
web site: www.eeoc.gov/

September 2008

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