Coronavirus (COVID-19), HR Management & Compliance

Maine Starts 2022 with Minimum Wage Changes, Portland Mask Mandate

We’re only a few days into 2022, but Maine employers should be aware of several significant changes including increases to state and local minimum wages and a new indoor mask mandate in Portland. Here’s what you need to know to start the year off on the right foot.

Minimum Wage

Statewide Minimum Wage

On January 1, Maine’s minimum wage climbed to $12.75 per hour. The minimum salary threshold for exempt employees increased to $735.59 per week ($38,251 per year).

Maine is one of eight states to raise the minimum wage based on cost-of-living increases. The federal minimum wage remains $7.25 per hour.

Portland Minimum Wage

Portland’s minimum wage is currently $19.50, one of the highest in the country. The city is in the midst of a municipal state of emergency because of COVID-19, which triggered its hazard pay ordinance and the higher minimum wage.

On January 3, the Portland City Council voted to end the municipal state of emergency in 10 days, at which time the requirement to provide the hazard pay will expire. The city attorney hasn’t determined if the extra pay will end on January 13 or 14.

Until we get more clarity, employers with a place of business in Portland should pay employees working at the facility in the city at least $19.50 per hour through January 14. Please note hazard pay is not applicable to employees working remotely.

Portland Indoor Mask Mandate

On January 3, the Portland City Council also voted to implement an indoor mask mandate. The rule, effective today (January 5), is in place for 30 days, at which time the council will vote to rescind or extend it.

Under the mandate, people ages 2 or older must wear a face covering when inside public buildings in Portland. Covered individuals include business owners, employees, customers, and visitors alike. People with medical conditions that are “complicated or irritated” by a face covering, or anyone with difficulty breathing or unable to remove masks without assistance, aren’t required to wear them in public spaces.

Businesses may nonetheless provide reasonable accommodations to disabled customers, such as curbside pickup, and limit entry to patrons who can wear a face covering. The mandate doesn’t apply to schools, churches, office space where workers can be physically separated from the general public, or portions of a gym, theater, or athletic arena where people can socially distance.

Before January 10, businesses must post signs stating “persons entering are required to wear face coverings by order of the Portland City Council.” The signage should appear at the entrance. Establishments requiring proof of vaccination for entry to the property are exempted, meaning they don’t need to require face coverings.

Hannah L. Wurgaft is an attorney with Brann & Isaacson in Lewiston, Maine. You can reach her at hwurgaft@brannlaw.com.