By Leora Kirk, KMA Consultant

The Maine legislature passed several acts impacting employment this year. Here is a summary of new laws with effective dates starting this fall.

 

An Act Relating to Fair Chance in Employment 

Employers are now limited on when and how they can inquire about the criminal history of applicants. On an initial employment application or job advertisement, employers may not inquire about criminal histories or state that applicants with criminal histories may not apply or be considered. Exceptions apply where there are laws or rules that create disqualifications or limits on hiring based on convictions.

Effective Date: October 18, 2021

Employer Action:

  • Employers who do not have positions where exceptions apply should remove criminal history inquiries and requirements from employment applications and job postings.
  • Employers may inquire about criminal history records in the interview process or once the applicant has been determined to be qualified, allowing applicants to explain the information, circumstances, and post-conviction rehabilitation.

 

An Act To Include Grandparents under Maine’s Family Medical Leave Laws

Maine has its own family and medical leave law which requires employers with 15 or more employees at a worksite to provide 10 weeks of unpaid leave over a two year period.

This new law expands the list of family members for whom leave can be taken to allow employees who are grandparents to take unpaid leave to care for their grandchildren or the grandchild of a domestic partner who has a serious health condition. This leave was previously limited to care for children of the employee or domestic partner, parents, spouses, domestic partners, and siblings.

Effective Date: October 18, 2021

Employer Action:

  • Covered employers should update policies, forms, and employee communications regarding Maine family and medical leave to allow for leave to care for grandchildren.

 

An Act To Prohibit an Employer from Charging an Employee for Direct Deposit for Wages

This law specifically prohibits charging employees a fee when their wages are paid by direct deposit.

Effective Date: October 18, 2021

Employer Action:

  • Employers should review their payroll practices and ensure they are not charging any fees for this service.

 

An Act to Update the Classification of Service Employees

This law increases the service industry tip minimum. The amount of tips needed to be considered a service employee increases from $30 to $175 per month according to the following schedule.

“Service employee” means any employee engaged in an occupation in which the employee customarily and regularly receives more than:

  • Prior to January 1, 2022, $30 a month in tips;
  • Beginning January 1, 2022, $100 a month in tips; or
  • Beginning January 1, 2023, $175 a month in tips

On January 1, 2024 and every January thereafter, this amount will be increased by the same percentage, if any, as cost of living increases based on the consumer price index.

Employer Action:

  • Employers who are applying a tip credit when calculating hourly rates should review employee tips to ensure employees earn enough to continue to be classified as service employees.
  • Employees not receiving enough monthly tips should be paid the minimum hourly wage in addition to any tips.

 

An Act To Promote Individual Retirement Savings through a Public-Private Partnership

Looking to the future, another law passed in 2021 requires employers who do not already offer a retirement plan to offer one starting in 2023 through a state run program.

The plan will include automatic enrollment to a Roth IRA, although employees can opt out. Covered employees will automatically contribute 5% of their salary or wages initially, scheduled to increase annually up to a maximum of 8%, and may elect to contribute at a higher or lower rate. Employer contributions are not required or permitted.

Here is the timeline:

  •  April 1, 2023: a covered employer with 25 or more covered employees must offer the program to employees;
  • October 1, 2023: a covered employer with 15 to 24 covered employees must offer the program to employees; and
  • April 1, 2024: a covered employer with 5 to 14 covered employees must offer the program to employees.

Employer Action:

  • If you do not already have a retirement plan in place, talk to your financial partners and advisors about retirement plan options before these deadlines to determine your best option for offering employees a retirement plan including the state run plan.

If you need help with compliance or other HR or employment issues, contact KMA today!