Planned Wage Increases for Bowdoin's Benefits-Eligible Hourly Employees FAQ

The information on this page provides additional information about plans to increase the minimum wage for Bowdoin’s benefits-eligible hourly employees. Detailed information about the benefits Bowdoin College offers to its employees is available here.

1. What is Bowdoin’s approach for compensating its hourly employees?

Bowdoin is committed to being the employer of choice in midcoast Maine and a leading employer in the state. To consistently achieve these goals, the College provides hourly wages and a benefits program that are each among the very best in the state. The program is reviewed on a regular basis and adjusted to maintain Bowdoin’s leadership position.

2. What is the current minimum wage in Maine?

The state minimum wage is currently $11.00 an hour. It will increase to $12.00 an hour on January 1, 2020.

3. What is the current minimum wage for benefits-eligible hourly employees at Bowdoin?


4. How many benefits-eligible hourly employees currently work at Bowdoin?

Approximately 400 benefits-eligible hourly employees (those who work at least twenty hours per week) currently work at Bowdoin.

5. How many employees at Bowdoin are currently paid the minimum wage of $12.65 an hour?

Six newly hired employees are paid at this current minimum rate.

6. What are the College’s plans for increasing the minimum wage for benefits-eligible hourly employees?

The plan is to increase the minimum to $14.00 on July 1, 2020; to $15.50 on July 1, 2021; and to $17.00 on July 1, 2022.

7. What happens to the wages of existing employees when the minimum wage for new hourly workers increases?

As the College increases the starting minimum wage, it will also adjust wages and corresponding benefits for existing benefits-eligible hourly employees across the College to account for “wage compression.” The adjustments will be allocated progressively (with the lowest-paying jobs receiving the largest increases) and in ways that recognize responsibilities, job requirements, and performance.

8. What is the difference between a “benefits-eligible hourly employee” and other hourly employees?

Benefits-eligible hourly employees are those who work at least twenty hours a week. The College also has a number of “casual employees” who are not eligible for these wage increases. Casual employees work less than 20 hours per week and less than 1,000 hours total per fiscal year in positions that require occasional duty on an as-needed basis.

9. Will these increases be applied to student wages?

No. The increases are for benefits-eligible hourly employees only.

10. Will there be benefits-eligible hourly employees at the College who will make less than the starting wage for new employees?


11. Where will the funds come from for these increases?

Savings will need to be found elsewhere in the budget to fund these wage increases. This work is underway as the College develops its 2020–2021 fiscal year budget.

12. Are there circumstances that could impact the College’s ability to implement this minimum wage increase program?

The College fully intends and expects to implement the program as described. However, as we saw in 2008, a financial or economic crisis can seriously impact the College’s financial condition. An event like a sharp downturn in the financial markets has the potential to require significant budget actions, including disrupting the timing of these increases.

13. Why is the College making these changes?

The changes reflect Bowdoin’s commitment to remaining a leader in wages and benefits in a new reality of record low unemployment and increasing competition for excellent employees.

14. Why is the College announcing these increases now?

The plan to increase the starting wage has been formulated over the past several months as the College has conducted a regular review of its compensation program and considered the labor market locally and in Maine. In particular, this summer Bath Iron Works announced that they would be seeking to hire 1,000 new employees this coming year. The plan was reviewed by trustees during their campus meetings (October 17–19) and announced immediately thereafter at the start of the College’s annual budgeting process, since reductions will be necessary elsewhere in the budget to fund the wage increases.

15. How does Bowdoin establish compensation for hourly staff?

We examine a range of information, including wage data for similar jobs at employers across southern and midcoast Maine and benefits data from businesses, hospitals, and other private educational institutions in Maine, including a number of other leading Maine organizations.

16. What are the benefits provided by the College to benefits-eligible hourly employees?

All hourly employees who regularly work at least twenty hours per week receive benefits, including:

  • retirement contributions by the College per pay period of 10.12 percent or 12.13 percent of wages (depending on the age of the employee) that do not require a match or any additional contribution by the employee (these funds are fully vested immediately, and employees are eligible for retirement benefits after one year of service);
  • an option to participate immediately upon being hired in one of three competitive health plans, with employee contributions based on income;
  • a dental plan and vision plan;
  • disability and life insurance paid by the College;
  • twelve paid holidays, plus paid time off for the days between Christmas and New Year’s Day;
  • two weeks of paid vacation that accrue in an employee’s first year and three weeks paid vacation that accrue beginning in year two;
  • twelve days of paid sick leave per year that can accrue up to sixty-five days; and
  • emergency paid sick leave for employees with a serious health condition who have exhausted their personal sick time.

Detailed information about the benefits Bowdoin College offers to its employees is available here.

17. Where do most of these hourly employees work?

Benefits-eligible hourly staff are employed across all divisions of the College. The majority work in either facilities or dining services.



October 21, 2019