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August 2022: Portland, Maine Voters to Decide on Raising Minimum Wage, Eliminating Tip Credit, and Classifying Ride-share and Delivery Drivers as Employees

25 Aug


Update Applicable to:
All employers in the city of Portland, Maine.

What happened?
On August 8, 2022, the Portland City Council voted unanimously to send five citizen-initiated referendums to voters in the November election. One of the referendums appearing on the November 8 ballot is “An Act to Eliminate the Sub-Minimum Wage, Increase the Minimum Wage and Strengthen Protections for Workers.”

What are the details?

Phased-in $18 Minimum Wage
If approved by voters, the Act would increase the minimum wage in Portland to $18 per hour over three years and eliminate the sub-minimum wage for tipped workers over the same period. After that, tipped workers would earn $18 an hour plus tips. It would also provide an $18 minimum wage for workers currently not receiving the minimum wage, including taxi drivers and other ride-sharing services, personal shoppers, and delivery drivers who would be reclassified from independent contractors to employees.

The Act would raise the current minimum wage of $13 per hour to $15 per hour on January 1, 2023. The minimum wage would rise to $16.50 per hour on January 1, 2024, and $18 per hour on January 1, 2025. After that, the minimum wage would rise annually based on a cost-of-living calculus.

The minimum wage would apply to all employers and employees in Portland. The Act defines “employer” to cover all employers, regardless of size, that maintain a place of business within city limits. It also adds a definition that an “employer” includes “any Driver or Delivery Service that offers services to or from any location within the City Limits regardless of whether it has a physical place of business within the City Limits.” A “Driver or Delivery Service” is any “taxicab service or any same-day app-based delivery, personal shopper service, or personal transportation service provided to individual consumers, including but not limited to third-party delivery, courier, or ride-hailing services for transporting people, food, beverages, groceries, or other goods to or from any location within the City limits.”

Thus, any ride-share or delivery service that drops off or picks up in Portland would have to comply with the new minimum wage regardless of whether it maintains a physical presence in the city.

Additionally, the Act defines “employee” to include full-time, part-time, seasonal, and temporary workers, including “any individual who performs work for a Driver or Delivery Service . . .” as well as city government employees.

Elimination of the Tip Credit
In addition to increasing the minimum wage, the referendum would eliminate the tip credit for service employees. Currently, employers can consider tips as part of the wages of a service employee toward satisfaction of the minimum wage. If the changes are enacted, however, employers in the service industry would have to pay a set minimum wage on a phased-in schedule as follows, with tips on top of the direct wage:

  • 1/1/23 to 12/31/23: Employer must pay a direct wage of $10 per hour.
  • 1/1/24 to 12/31/24: Employer must pay a direct wage of $14 per hour.
  • 1/1/25 and After: Employer must pay a direct wage of at least the minimum wage of $18 or more per hour.

The Act would not prohibit tip pooling consistent with the Fair Labor Standards Act.

To enforce the new minimum wage, the Act would establish a Director of Fair Labor Practices in Portland and provide employees a right to file a complaint with the Director. If the Director were to find a violation has occurred, the Director would have the authority to order back wages paid plus a fine of no less than $100 for each day of the violation. It is unclear how this new Director and the department would function alongside the state Department of Labor, which is currently responsible for investigating unfair wage practices in Maine.

Ride-Share and Delivery Drivers Would No Longer Be Independent Contractors
The Act would reclassify “Driver or Delivery Service” workers as employees entitled to the minimum wage. This would eliminate their independent contractor status.

The broad change would encompass taxi drivers, ride-share drivers, and app-based shoppers and delivery drivers who transport people or goods to or from Portland regardless of where the driver resides or where the company maintains a place of business.

For more information, please see the links below:


What do employers need to do?
Employers should review the links provided above and be on the lookout for the election’s outcome. Vensure will continue to monitor this and communicate any updates as they are received.

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This communication is intended solely for the purpose of conveying information. The present post might incorporate hyperlinks directing readers to websites managed by third-party entities. The inclusion of any links within this communication is meant to serve as points of reference and could encompass opinion articles from various law firms, articles from HR associations, official websites, news releases, and documents of government agencies, and other relevant third-party sources. Vensure has no authority over these external websites and bears no responsibility for their content. Furthermore, Vensure does not endorse the materials present on these websites. The contents of this communication should not be interpreted as legal advice or as a legal standpoint concerning specific facts or scenarios. Nor should it be deemed an exhaustive compilation of facts potentially pertinent to federal, state, or local laws. It is strongly advised that employers solicit legal guidance from an employment attorney when undertaking actions in response to any legal updates provided. This is due to the possibility of future alterations occurring in federal, state, and local laws, regulations, as well as the directives and guidelines issued by governing agencies. These changes may transpire at any given time, potentially rendering certain portions of the content within this update void or inaccurate.

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