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Maine Minimum Wage: Everything You Need to Know

9 min read

Navigating the ever-evolving landscape of labor laws can be tricky, especially when it comes to minimum wage requirements. For employers in Maine, staying informed about the state’s specific regulations, incuding the Maine minimum wage, is crucial to ensuring compliance and fostering a fair and ethical work environment.

This post will explore everything that employers need to know about the Maine minimum wage, including rates, history, and exemptions. We will also share best practices to help employers comply with all Maine’s wage law requirements.

US Minimum Wage Tiers

The minimum wage in the United States is a complex system with multiple tiers, each set by a different level of government: federal, state, and municipal. This progressive approach ensures that workers across the country receive a fair wage in line with their local economic conditions.

Federal Minimum Wage

As the baseline, the federal minimum wage is the lowest hourly rate that employers are legally allowed to pay their employees. It is set by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and was last raised in 2009 to $7.25 per hour. This rate, which ensures that employers comply with a basic level of compensation regardless of their location or industry, has not been adjusted since 2009, and it is significantly lower than the median hourly wage of all workers in the United States ($18.04 per hour).

State Minimum Wages

Recognizing regional variations in cost of living and economic factors, many states have enacted their own minimum wage laws that are higher than the federal rate. These state-level mandates ensure that workers in higher-cost areas receive a wage that reflects their cost of living.

Municipal Minimum Wages

To further address local economic realities, some cities and counties have implemented their own minimum wage ordinances that are higher than both the federal and state rates. This approach ensures that workers in urban centers, where the cost of living is often higher, receive a wage that reflects their specific circumstances.

In addition to regional differences, the minimum wage can also be adjusted based on industry. For example, the minimum wage for tipped employees in the restaurant industry is typically lower than the minimum wage for non-tipped employees. This is because tipped employees are expected to receive a significant portion of their income from tips. However, in some states, employers are required to make up the difference if the employee’s hourly wage plus tips does not equal at least the minimum wage.

History of the Maine Minimum Wage

Maine has a long and proud history of fighting for fair wages for its workers. From humble beginnings in 1959 with a minimum wage of just $1 per hour, the state has steadily increased its minimum wage to become one of the highest in the country.

The following timeline paints a picture of Maine’s progressive minimum wage journey, from aligning with national standards to becoming a national leader in worker-friendly policies.

  • 1959: Maine takes its first step, enacting a uniform minimum wage of $1/hour, matching the federal rate.
  • 1965-1981: A period of rapid Maine minimum wage increases, aligning with federal hikes. By 1981, the ME minimum wage reaches $3.35/hour.
  • 1985-1991: Maine takes the lead. While the federal minimum stagnates, the state boosts wages annually, reaching $4.25/hour in 1991 and surpassing the federal level.
  • 1997: The federal minimum wage finally catches up, rising to $5.15/hour, which Maine mirrors.
  • Early 2000s: Maine embarks on a series of independent increases, leaving the federal minimum behind.
  • 2016: A significant jump when the minimum wage in Maine hits $8/hour, the first state east of the Mississippi to reach this mark.
  • 2020: Another landmark – the Maine state minimum wage hits $12/hour, cementing the state’s position as a leader in minimum wage policy.
  • 2023: The Maine hourly wage reaches $13/hour, reflecting Maine’s ongoing commitment to improving worker earnings.
  • Beyond 2023: Future increases to the Maine hourly wage are tied to the cost of living index, ensuring continued progress towards a living wage for Maine workers.

Maine Minimum Wage Rates

So, what is the current minimum wage in Maine? Is the minimum wage going up in Maine this year?

Maine’s minimum wage landscape presents a nuanced picture for both employers and employees. Let’s explore the current rates for tipped and untipped workers, as well as the future trajectory of increases.

Untipped Workers

Untipped workers in Maine are entitled to a minimum wage of $14.15 per hour, placing the state among the national leaders in fair compensation. This applies to all employees who don’t receive regular gratuities as part of their job, covering sectors like retail, healthcare, and construction.

Tipped Workers

For those relying on tips to supplement their base pay, Maine operates with a tipped minimum wage of $7.08 per hour. However, employers can take an employee’s tips into account as long as they reach the combined standard minimum wage of $14.15 per hour. In simple terms, if an employee’s hourly wages plus tips fall below $14.15, the employer must make up the difference.

Looking Ahead

The good news doesn’t stop at the current rates. The Maine minimum wage is indexed to the Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA), ensuring automatic increases based on inflation. This means future rises are highly likely, keeping the Maine minimum wage in line with the rising cost of living.

Remember: These are just the core minimum wage rates. Certain local ordinances might dictate higher minimums. For example, the Portland minimum wage for untipped workers is currently $15.00 per hour and for tipped workers it is $7.50 per hour. Employers should always check local regulations and ensure they comply with the highest applicable rate.

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Maine Minimum Wage Exemptions and Special Cases

Maine minimum wage regulations are not always straightforward, with certain exemptions and special cases applying to specific types of workers or industries. Employers must be aware of these exemptions and special cases to ensure they are compliant with the Maine minimum wage regulations.

Here’s a summary of the key exemptions and special considerations.


  • Public sector: Most state and local government employees are exempt from the minimum wage requirement.
  • Certain professions: Individuals working in designated professions like doctors, lawyers, and real estate agents are exempt from minimum wage requirements as they receive a salary.
  • Students: Students working for colleges or universities where they are enrolled qualify for a lower minimum wage ($7.61 as of 2024).
  • Seasonal employees: Those working with seasonal employers for less than 60 days per year aren’t subject to the minimum wage.
  • Outside salespeople: If an outside salesperson meets specific criteria regarding commission-based pay, they’re exempt from the Maine minimum wage.

Special cases:

  • Tipped employees: Maine’s tipped minimum wage is lower, but employers must make up the difference if tips don’t bring total earnings to $14.15 per hour.
  • Disability wages: Maine allows employers to pay individuals with disabilities less than the minimum wage in certain circumstances, with approval from the state Department of Labor.

Remember: Local ordinances within Maine, like Portland’s higher minimum wage, might supersede state exemptions. Always check local regulations for full clarity.

Additional Maine Wage Laws

Aside from the Maine minimum wage, the Pine Tree State has several additional wage laws that employers must comply with to ensure fair compensation and compliance with state regulations.

This includes:

  • Overtime. Most employees working beyond 40 hours per week earn overtime pay at one and a half times their regular rate (time and a half). Some exemptions apply to public sector employees and certain professions.
  • Breaks. While breaks aren’t mandated for all employees, Title 26 requires employers to provide a 30-minute unpaid meal break for employees working over six hours.
  • Timekeeping. Unlike some federal requirements, Maine doesn’t dictate a specific method for timekeeping. Employers can choose any system that accurately tracks employee hours, such as punch clocks, timesheets, or electronic timekeeping software. Records must be readily accessible for inspection by authorized representatives of the Maine Department of Labor.
  • Recordkeeping. According to Title 26, employers must maintain accurate employee records for at least three years (with some exceptions for specific industries). These records should include:
    • Employee names, addresses, and dates of birth
    • Dates of hire and termination
    • Wage rates and hours worked
    • Deductions made from wages
    • Any overtime pay earned
  • Earned paid leave. Several Maine cities, like Portland, have ordinances mandating earned paid leave for employees.
  • Equal pay. Title 26 prohibits employers from discriminating in wages based on sex, race, national origin, or other protected characteristics.
  • Wage garnishment. The Maine Wage Payment and Collection Law governs the process of wage garnishment. This law outlines the procedures that employers must follow to obtain a court order for wage garnishment and establishes the maximum percentage of an employee’s disposable earnings that an employer can garnish.
  • Final pay. Employees are entitled to their final paycheck (including accrued vacation time) on the next regular payday after leaving a company.

Compliance Requirements for Maine Employers

As we embark on 2024, employers in Maine must keep up with the evolving landscape of labor laws in the state, particularly those surrounding minimum wage and employee compensation. The following best practices will help you comply with Maine’s wage regulations and foster a fair and ethical work environment for your employees.

Maine Minimum Wage

As we saw above, Maine’s minimum wage stands at $14.15 per hour for non-tipped employees. For tipped workers, the hourly wage is $7.08, but employers must ensure the combined total of hourly wages and tips reaches $14.15 per hour. Remember, some local ordinances, like Portland’s $15 minimum wage, might set the highest bar, so always check local regulations.

Moreover, the Maine minimum wage is indexed to the cost of living adjustment (COLA), meaning future increases are likely. Keep tabs on these changes and adjust your compensation accordingly to avoid falling behind.


Most employees working beyond 40 hours per week in a single workweek earn overtime pay at one and a half times their regular rate. Remember, some specific jobs and public sector employees might be exempt, so familiarize yourself with exceptions.

In addition, implement a reliable system to accurately track employee hours, including overtime. Consider electronic timekeeping software or clear timesheets to avoid payroll discrepancies and potential legal disputes.


Choose a timekeeping system that accurately reflects the hours your employees work, including breaks and meal periods. Ensure employees understand how you calculate their hours and provide them with access to their time records upon request.


Maine requires employers to keep detailed employee records for at least three years.

These records must include:

  • Employee names, addresses, and dates of birth
  • Dates of hire and termination
  • Wage rates and hours worked
  • Deductions made from wages
  • Any overtime pay earned
  • Tip records for tipped employees

Implement a system for easy access and retrieval of employee records with all this data. This will aid in audits, inspections, and potential legal proceedings.


Maine doesn’t mandate breaks for all adult employees. However, providing a 30-minute unpaid meal break for employees working over six hours fosters physical and mental well-being. This in turn boosts productivity and employee satisfaction.

Wage Garnishment

Maine restricts wage garnishment to authorized deductions like taxes, court-ordered child support, and specific types of unpaid debts. Make sure all deductions you make from an employee’s wages are legal and authorized. In addition, remember that it’s illegal to retaliate against employees who refuse to consent to unauthorized deductions.

Also, clearly communicate to employees any authorized deductions being made from their wages and provide documentation explaining the reason and amount.

Wage Notices

Finally, display a clear and readily available wage notice in your place of business. This notice should outline the Maine minimum wage, overtime pay requirements, and other relevant state wage laws. Make sure the notice is accessible to all employees and update it as regulations change.

In addition, educate your employees about their rights and responsibilities regarding wages and labor laws. Moreover, conduct training sessions to empower your HR team to navigate this terrain with confidence.

Additional Best Practices

While legal compliance is essential, you should strive to go beyond the minimum requirements. Here are a few additional best practices to help you with this:

  • Firstly, conduct pay equity audits to ensure equal pay for equal work across genders and demographics (pay parity). This ensure that your compensation stategy meets the requirements of the federal Equal Pay Act.
  • Secondly, offer competitive salaries and benefits packages to attract and retain top talent. Consider offering perks like paid time off, flexible work arrangements, and employee development programs to boost morale and loyalty.
  • In addition, cultivate a culture of open communication and employee engagement. Foster a safe space for employees to voice concerns about wages, working conditions, and other workplace issues. Actively listen to their feedback and take steps to address any problems constructively.
  • Finally, regularly monitor updates and changes in Maine’s wage and labor laws. Subscribe to relevant newsletters, attend workshops, and consult with resources like the Maine Department of Labor (MDOL) to keep up to date with legal changes and best practices.

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How Factorial Can Help You Comply with Maine’s Wage Laws

Factorial’s payroll software can help you manage your payroll accurately and efficiently, ensuring that you comply with all Maine wage laws, including the Maine minimum wage. Firstly, the software automatically calculates employee wages, including overtime, garnishments, and deductions, and generates paychecks in a variety of formats. It also tracks and manages payroll taxes, ensuring that you are compliant with all legal requirements.

In addition, Factorial can help you calculate and process holiday pay for your employees in accordance with state legal requirements. The platform can track which employees are entitled to holiday pay and automatically calculates the amount of pay they should receive at the end of each pay period.

Moreover, Factorial’s electronic time clock can help you comply with employee time-tracking legal requirements. For instance, the software can track employee hours, breaks, and meal periods, and it can generate reports that can be used to verify compliance.

Finally, Factorial’s employee record management software can help you store and maintain employee records, including payroll information, timesheets, and other relevant documents. This can help you comply with Maine’s recordkeeping regulations and ensure that you have all information readily available if the Maine Department of Labor conducts an audit of your records.

Ultimately, all these features will help you stay compliant with the Maine minimum wage law and all other relevant labor regulations in the state. That way, you can rest assured that your business fosters a positive and productive work environment and contributes to a healthy and thriving business community.

Cat Symonds is a freelance writer, editor, and translator. Originally from Wales, she studied Spanish and French at the University of Swansea before moving to Barcelona where she lived and worked for 12 years. She has since relocated back to Wales where she continues to build her business, working with clients in Spain and the UK.  Cat is the founder of The Content CAT: Content And Translation, providing content development and translation services to her clients. She specializes in corporate blogs, articles of interest, ghostwriting, and translation (SP/FR/CA into EN), collaborating with a range of companies from a variety of business sectors. She also offers services to a number of NGOs including Oxfam Intermón, UNICEF, and Corporate Excellence - Centre for Reputation Leadership.  For more information or to contact Cat visit her website ( or send her a message through LinkedIn.

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