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February 12, 2020

Proposed bill would provide $8.8M in overtime for salaried Mainers

A legislative committee on Wednesday takes up a bill that would extend overtime pay to 28,000 Maine workers who don’t receive it.

The bill — LD 402, “An Act to Restore Overtime Protections for Maine Workers” — would increase the threshold income that determines whether salaried employees get time-and-a-half pay for working over 40 hours a week.

Nearly all hourly workers are guaranteed overtime when they work more than 40 hours. The guarantee also applies to workers who earn an annual salary of less than $36,000.

But that level hasn’t been adjusted in recent years to keep up with inflation, according to the Maine Center for Economic Policy. The center noted that during the 1970s, 65% of salaried Mainers earned below the salary cap and were thus entitled to overtime. Today, 20% of those earning salaries receive that benefit.

LD 402 would phase in hikes to the salary cap over a two-year period, reaching $55,224 in 2022. The amount would then be adjusted annually based on earning statistics from the federal government.

Maine's per capita income is $31,253, according to 2018 census data. Median household income in the state is $55,425.

The effect of the legislation would be to boost middle-class wages by $8.8 million, according to a report published Tuesday by the center.

“No worker in Maine should be made to work 60 or 70 hours per week without earning a living wage,” said the report’s author, MECEP policy analyst James Myall, in a news release. “[LD 402] would give Maine’s middle class a much-needed raise and boost our economy.”

The state Legislature’s Labor and Housing Committee was scheduled to hold a work session on the bill at 11 a.m. Wednesday.

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