Update the Statutes To Promote Clarity for Workers and Employers

Last updated: Jun 18, 2017

Details about this bill
Category: Wage and Labor
Status: Passed
Sponsor: Senator Andre Cushing, Senate 33 - York County
Session: 128
Bill #: LD 1575

Position:

Support.

UPDATE: This bill has been passed and signed by the Governor. It takes effect 90 days post-adjournment. READ THE ENACTED LAW.

UPDATE: This amended bill now heads to the Senate.

Summary:

This bill makes the following changes to the labor laws.

1. It removes a reference to the Director of Labor Standards as the "state factory inspector" to recognize that the workplaces governed by these statutes are not restricted to factories.

2. It requires posters regarding video display terminal safety and minimum wage and overtime requirements to be posted in the same location as other posters required by the Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Standards and establishes a penalty structure for violations of the posting requirements within the section of law requiring posting.

3. It removes the requirement that a willful violation of the requirement to cooperate and comply with an investigation by the bureau is punishable as a criminal conviction because the statute does not provide a means to obtain a conviction and instead provides for a civil penalty of up to $10,000 for a willful violation.

4. It brings the law prohibiting discrimination against tobacco use by employees into compliance with federal law by allowing an employer to discriminate against an employee who uses tobacco when determining health and life insurance premiums and other employee benefit plans but exempts from discrimination an employee's tobacco use that is part of a voluntary wellness program for the cessation of tobacco use.

5. It amends the law regarding the possession of firearms by employees to reflect the repeal of the requirement to obtain a concealed carry permit and clarifies that it does not authorize an employee to carry or possess a firearm where carrying or possessing a firearm is prohibited, including on worksites that are not owned by that employee's employer.

6. It amends the law regarding rest breaks to clarify the differences between paid rest breaks and unpaid lunch breaks.

7. It amends the exemption from rest breaks for those employees who have frequent rest breaks during the work day to specify that the exemption only applies if the rest breaks are paid rest breaks and of shorter duration than the 30 minutes otherwise required.

8. It amends the law regarding the exemption from mandatory overtime pay for salaried workers to specify that the exemption applies to a salaried employee who works in a bona fide executive, administrative or professional capacity who meets the test for a white collar exemption, including a minimum salary level, as established in the final rules adopted by the United States Department of Labor pursuant to the federal Fair Labor Standards Act and allows such employees to be paid on a monthly basis, instead of every 16 days, as for other employees.

9. It amends the law regarding timing of payment of wages to specify that the payment must include all wages earned for the prior pay period, instead of those earned within 8 days of the payment date, and allows such payments to be made on the next business day when the payment date occurs on a day when the business is closed. The bill prohibits an employer from increasing any pay interval without providing notice to its employees.

10. Current law requires an employer to keep a record showing the date and amount paid to each employee and a daily record of time worked by an employee. This bill specifies that those records must be maintained by the employer for 3 years.

11. Current law requires an employee leaving employment to be paid within a reasonable time after demand at the office of the employer where payrolls are kept and wages are paid. Whenever the terms of employment include provisions for paid vacations, vacation pay on cessation of employment has the same status as wages earned. This bill removes the "reasonable time" requirement and instead specifies that when an employee leaves employment, that employee must be paid on the next established payday. The bill also specifies that payment of vacation is payable only in accordance with the employer's established policy or practice.

12. It repeals the exemption from the minimum wage and overtime laws for an individual employed as a switchboard operator in a public telephone exchange that has less than 750 stations.

13. It amends the definitions of "automobile mechanic," "automobile parts clerk" and "automobile service writer" to reflect provisions in federal law.

14. It changes the definition of "tip" and provisions regarding service charges to conform to the federal Fair Labor Standards Act, or FLSA. Current Maine law creates a wage violation under the FLSA by allowing a charge added to a customer's bill to be treated as a tip, whereas the FLSA treats it as a service charge, which is the employer's property not the service worker's.

15. It clarifies the intent of the Legislature, to conform with federal law, that the distribution of certain products is exempt from the provisions governing overtime pay. It amends the 1995 law by reordering the series of exempt tasks for the purpose of eliminating any perceived ambiguity.

16. It adds the exemption adopted by the United States Department of Labor in 2015 for a domestic service worker employed to provide companionship services. The provision of care provided in conjunction with the provision of fellowship and protection cannot exceed 20% of the total hours worked per person and per workweek to qualify for exemption.

17. It repeals the definition of "hotel" for purposes of the subchapter on minimum wage since the term is not used in that subchapter.

18. It repeals and reallocates the provisions of the Maine Revised Statutes, Title 26, chapter 7, subchapter 4, article 1 regarding the application of the subchapter, record of work hours of minors and penalties.

19. It requires the bureau to conduct a survey every 3 years to determine the prevailing hourly wage and benefits rate in the construction industry. Current law requires the bureau to determine that wage and benefits rate annually.

20. It repeals the provisions of law regarding placement restrictions for a person required to work as a condition of receiving public assistance.

21. It updates the safety standard for inspection of firefighters' breathing apparatus to require that the inspection procedure follow the procedure specified in the manufacturer's operation manual. The document referred to in current law was never finalized for adoption.