Employer Update from the Maine Department of Labor May/June


Tips and tools to lower costs, strengthen your workforce, work safely and comply with the law.

Volume 1.  Issue 5.  May/June 2014


SafetyWorks! can help you prevent work-related injuries, illnesses and deaths and reduce related costs.

Our services are free and confidential and we do not issue fines or citations.

We help keep workers safe and healthy. And we help businesses thrive, because you will save four to six dollars for every dollar you invest in safety. The old adage is true — it pays to be safe!

Upcoming Safety Training

Note: The Laws Governing Workplace Rights course is designed for employers.

Click for full schedule


  • 12, 13: 10-Hour Construction Standards Training (Augusta)
  • 13: Laws Governing Workplace Rights (Rockland)
  • 16-20: 30-Hour General Industry Standards (Augusta)
  • 19: Laws Governing Workplace Rights (Two sessions: Scarborough and Brunswick)
  • 24: Scaffolding and Fall Protection (Augusta)
  • 26: OSHA Recordkeeping (Westbrook)
  • 26: Laws Governing Workplace Rights (Bangor)


  • 10: Back Injury Prevention (Augusta)
  • 14: Public Sector (BLS) (Augusta)
  • 15: Bloodborne Pathogens, Train-the-Trainer (Augusta)
  • 16: Trenching and Excavation (Bangor)
  • 17: Machine Guarding (Augusta)
  • 22: Safety Officer Training (Augusta)
  • 24: Fire Extinguisher/ Emergency Action Plan (Augusta)
  • 29: Video Display Terminal Train-the-Trainer (Augusta)
  • 30: Public Works Safety Series (Augusta)

Employer Services

Hiring Assistance

Maine Apprenticeship Program

Maine’s Job Bank

Work Experience for ASPIRE Participants

Find a CareerCenter near you...

"The Maine Department of Labor Rocks"

That's not something employers commonly say! However, in this case, an employer wrote a blog about how the department solved an employment issue that fell into a grey area of the law.  The result benefited both the business and its new employee. Learn the full story at Wicked Good HR. The Department of Labor is working to be more responsive to the needs of businesses, employees and job seekers and move Maine's economy forward.

Governor Paul R. LePage said, “The department is focused on customer service for all constituents. Our goal is to help employers save time, money and aggravation when complying with state regulations. This is a great example of how my administration is encouraging state government to work with our businesses and our workers.”

Changes to Unemployment Billing for Employers

Beginning in June, employers will receive two separate bills from Maine Revenue Services, one for withholding and one for unemployment insurance contributions. This is the first step in modernizing the combined quarterly report process. 

The bills will look similar, and employers will still send all payments to MRS for processing through to MDOL. 

Note: The bills show debt for the current quarter filing only and will not reflect prior debt owed to MDOL. Prior debt will still be billed by MDOL as in the past. 

Questions about this change can be directed to the Maine Revenue Services withholding unit at (207) 626-8475 (press 1 then 4 from the menu) or by emailing to withholding.tax@maine.gov .

New Videos Explain the Unemployment System

A series of 10 videos will help both claimants and employers navigate Maine’s unemployment system. The Bureau of Unemployment Compensation produced the videos, through a grant from the U.S. Department of Labor, to increase understanding of unemployment and compliance with its rules and to decrease fraud and improper payments.

Two videos explain the appeal process for both employers and claimants: “How to File an Appeal” and “The Hearing Process”; two videos aid employers: “How Do I Register as an Employer and Pay Unemployment Taxes?” and “Protect Your Business from Higher Unemployment Taxes.”

The videos will roll out in June and July.

Eliminate Potential Awkwardness

Employees may not feel confident interacting with people who have disabilities, whether coworkers returning to work after an injury or illness, a new colleague, or a customer.

Knowledge through training will increase confidence.  Awareness is central to employment “best practices.” Communication skills will foster appropriateness and comfort when interacting with someone who uses a wheelchair, is deaf, or has a vision impairment. Increased comfort levels not only help workers  recognize their shared interests but also help people work together more effectively.

Staff of the Bureau of Rehabilitation Services can provide guidance and training at no cost to Maine employers on disability awareness, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and other topics related to disabilities and assistive technology in the workplace.  Please email Valerie.Oswald@maine.gov for more information.

Seasonal Employment

While federal employment laws allow for exemptions for seasonal employment, Maine’s wage and hour laws do not recognize seasonal exemptions from overtime. In general, all employees must receive minimum wage and overtime for all hours worked. However, there are unemployment tax exemptions for some employers deemed seasonal by the Maine Unemployment Insurance Commission (see Rule Chapters for the Department of Labor: Ch. 6 Seasonal Industry Program). Being deemed seasonal for unemployment purposes does not affect the employer’s obligations regarding minimum wage and overtime laws.

Tipped Worker Tips

Tipped employees are those who customarily and regularly receive tips. Employees must be informed in advance if the employer uses a tip credit and the amount of tip credit to be claimed; the tip credit cannot be more than $3.75 an hour (one half of minimum wage). Employers must be able to show that employees receive at least $7.50 (minimum wage) when wages and tips are combined. In addition, employees must retain all of their tips, except to the extent that they participate in a valid tip pooling or sharing arrangement. Tipped employees are also subject to overtime at one and one-half times the applicable minimum wage, not one and one-half times the direct wage (tip credit). 

From the Commissioner

Commissioner Paquette

Jeanne Paquette, Commissioner of Labor

Finding good jobs for good people and good people for good employers has been a passion of mine since long before my time as Commissioner of Labor when I was a human resources executive and later a business owner. Even more so today, with an unemployment rate at its lowest since September 2008 and the share of our population who are employed at its highest since November 2008, finding the right candidate will become more competitive.

This summer I will travel around Maine to engage businesses, trade and professional associations and Chambers of Commerce. I want to hear directly from you about your needs, where the State can focus our efforts to improve the business climate in Maine and about your experience with the workforce development system.

I encourage you to reach out to me through my assistant Jan at Jan.Bielau-Nivus@maine.gov, so we can schedule time to open up this dialogue. Thank you and enjoy the summer.

Job Vacancy Survey in Summer 2014

CWRI is preparing to conduct a job vacancy survey to obtain information directly from employers on positions they actively seek to fill.  The survey of approximately 3,000 employers will provide a snapshot of hiring demand, describing the number and characteristics of openings by industry, occupation and geography. The survey will also solicit feedback from employers about openings that are difficult to fill.

The survey will collect the following information:

  • Job vacancies by occupation.
  • Full time/part time and seasonal/temporary status.
  • Education requirements.
  • Prior experience required.
  • Opening that are difficult to fill and why.

We encourage you to participate in the survey if contacted.  Your participation is important to having a statistically valid survey. More information about employer surveys and confidentiality is available from CWRI.

Summer Employment of Minors

During non-school weeks in the summer, minors can work more hours than they can when school is in session, although hazardous duties protections still apply. 

  • Minors ages 14 and 15 can work 40 hours a week, 8 hours a day, but no more than six days a week. 
  • Minors 16 and 17 can work 50 hours a week, 10 hours a day, but no more than six days a week.