Maine Labor Law Breaks
Unlike most other states, Maine has its own laws for how meal breaks are to be handled. Most states use federal laws in regard to meal breaks, but Maine is one of nineteen states that has its own. Maine law states that employees are allowed thirty-minute meal breaks whenever six hours of work have been completed in one day.
Meal breaks are also usually only provided for employees who work eight hours. A company or business may stipulate other guidelines through contracts that they are required to uphold. However, employers cannot eliminate the employee’s right to have this thirty-minute break.
Exceptions to the state meal break may apply in some circumstances. Those who work in emergency fields — such as hospitals, fire departments, and police departments — are most often not given this guideline as emergency situations may, and often do, require employees to not break throughout a shift. The meal law also may not apply if employees are given long breaks throughout their shifts. The meal break law is also only possible for companies and businesses that have three or more employees working on the same shift. Meal breaks are often not paid breaks.
If there are three or more persons on duty, all workers who work more than six hours must put in at least 30 minutes of unpaid time.
Family and Medical Leave
Maine does not have its own state laws for how personal leave is to be maintained. Maine instead uses federal laws for family and medical leave purposes. The Family and Medical Leave Act allows United States employees to take necessary leave of absence for medical or family necessities. This act allows leaving without the fear of losing employment. The Family and Medical Leave Act cover the situations of maternity leave, the care of an elderly parent, the care of an ill child, hospitalization, and any other medical or psychological purpose.
Maternity leave is provided for mothers to care for their newborns or for adoptive parents to bond with their new children. Paternity leave is also often available for some employees. Maternity leave, as well as other medical or family leave, is unpaid leave that can last no more than twelve weeks. These twelve weeks must be taken consecutively and cannot be spread over several months. Some companies may allow employees on leave to receive payment but are only required if stated in the written contract. Employees are also allowed to take leave for pregnancy complications or for the care of an expectant wife.
Upon returning to employment, an individual is entitled to receive his or her former occupation or occupation of the same salary and benefits. Employers are not allowed to terminate an employee based on pregnancy or the necessity of leave.
In 2009 the federal minimum wage was raised from five dollars and fifteen cents to seven dollars and twenty-five cents. This required all states to raise their minimum wages to this level or higher. Some states currently have minimum wages of eight dollars or more, while Maine has a minimum wage of seven dollars and fifty cents.
Employers are required to pay no less than this amount. An employee who receives tips on a regular basis is allowed to be paid three dollars and seventy-five cents, as tips make up the salary difference.