Multiple updates to Maine labor law went into effect on Monday, October 18, 2021, including An Act Relating to Fair Chance in Employment. This new law prohibits employers from inquiring about an individual’s criminal history on an initial employment application and from stating in employment advertisements that an individual with a criminal history may not apply.
An employer may inquire about a prospective employee's criminal history during an interview or once the prospective employee has been determined otherwise qualified for the position. If an employer inquires about a prospective employee's criminal record, the prospective employee, if still eligible for the position under applicable federal or state law, must be afforded an opportunity to explain the information and the circumstances regarding any convictions, including post-conviction rehabilitation.
There are exceptions if a background check is required or if it would be inappropriate for an individual with a certain criminal history to apply.
The Maine CareerCenters have a universal application that employers can use either as their actual application or as an example when creating their own: https://www.maine.gov/labor/careerctr/docs/2019/GenericEmploymentApplicationMaineRevised7219.pdf.
More information about this and other labor law updates can be found here: https://www.maine.gov/labor/labor_laws/llupdates/2021/index.shtml.
Anyone who has questions about labor laws, or thinks their rights have been violated, should contact MDOL’s Bureau of Labor Standards at (207) 623-7900 or https://www.maine.gov/labor/contact/index.html.
MDOL works to connect employers and job seekers who experience barriers to finding employment, such as justice-involved individuals. The Department works collaboratively with the Maine Department of Corrections (DOC) to help individuals currently and formerly incarcerated and those on probation to prepare for jobs through preemployment skills-based learning, connections to employers, and CareerCenter support services.
In recent years the DOL and DOC have co-hosted events for employers inside correctional facilities, with the goal of providing a better understanding of justice involvement, how to hire incarcerated individuals through work release programs, and about bonding and tax credits for hiring those post release.
The Work Opportunity Tax Credit Program is a federal tax credit that offers a tax incentive for private sector businesses to hire individuals from targeted groups that have consistently faced significant barriers to employment. Call the Department of Labor at (207) 623-7981 and ask to speak with the WOTC Coordinator. TTY users call Maine Relay 711.
The Federal Bonding Program was designed to provide insurance for employers to reduce any perceived financial risk of hiring someone. There are no out of pocket expenses for the employer because bonds are provided free of charge and carry a $0 deductible. There is also no cost to the job applicant. For more detailed information and eligibility requirements, visit the Federal Bonding Program website or contact your local CareerCenter. You may also call the Maine Department of Labor at (207) 623-7981 and ask to speak with the Federal Bonding Coordinator. TTY users call Maine Relay 711.
More information about these and other employer programs can be found at the link or by contacting your local CareerCenter: https://www.mainecareercenter.gov/employers/index.shtml.