Massachusetts Labor Laws

May 26th 2024

This article covers:

What are Massachusetts Time Management Laws?

In the US, there are federal laws in place to manage the time spent by employees in the workplace, safeguarding their rights and guaranteeing fair pay for their efforts. These laws act as directives for employers, keeping them in check, and minimizing any forms of abuse or exploitation.

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), which dates back to 1938, is a critical federal law for time management, setting hourly wage rates and overtime pay, and requiring employers to keep an accurate record of their employees’ working hours. Overtime is pegged at 1.5 times the regular hourly rate for workers who exceed 40 hours a week. However, certain job categories, including executives, professionals, and administrative employees, are exempt from overtime pay depending on their job description and salary.

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is another essential federal law that governs time management in the workplace, entitling eligible employees to up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for specific family and medical reasons, such as the birth or adoption of a child or caring for a family member with a serious health condition. This act also requires employers to maintain employees’ health benefits during their leave and restore them to their previous or equivalent positions upon their return to work.

Employers who contravene federal time management laws face severe legal ramifications, including fines, back pay, and damages. If workers feel that their employer has violated federal time management laws, they can file complaints with the Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division for investigation and legal action.

Overall, federal time management laws are instrumental in ensuring that workers are compensated fairly for their time and effort in the workplace, protecting them from abuse and exploitation by employers. The Fair Labor Standards Act and the Family and Medical Leave Act are vital federal laws that govern time management and worker compensation, ensuring fair labor practices across various sectors, including non-profit, public, and private organizations.

Learn more about Massachusetts Working Time and it’s suggested 4-day Workweek.

Minimum Wage $15.00
Overtime 1.5 times the regular wage for any time worked over 40 hours/week ($22.50 for minimum wage workers)
Breaks 30-minute unpaid break

What are the Hiring, Working & Termination Laws in Massachusetts?

In Massachusetts, there are specific employment practices that are classified as discriminatory and unlawful when hiring. These practices include harassment, retaliation, and discrimination against employees based on factors such as:

  • age
  • race
  • gender
  • military status
  • pregnancy
  • religion

For instance, employers cannot discriminate based on gender when it comes to payment of wages or require job applicants to avoid asking about wages. Asking for an employee’s wage or salary history is also considered unlawful. Employers cannot refuse to hire employees or job applicants based on discriminatory factors, such as race or handicap. Other practices that are prohibited include discrimination based on age or military status, denying employment or benefits to pregnant employees, and mental health discrimination. It is also against the law for employers to ask about criminal records, except for certain specific job positions.

In Massachusetts, employees can be terminated without cause and are also allowed to resign without further explanation. However, there are some regulations regarding the termination of employment in the state. If an employee voluntarily quits, they must be paid in full on the following regular payday or on the following Saturday if there isn’t a regular payday. If an employee is discharged, they must be paid in full on the day of the discharge.  

What Are the Key Labor Laws in Massachusetts?

Now, we will discuss some key labor laws in Massachusetts that may not be related to the categories we have previously explored. Some of these regulations include:

  • Whistleblower Laws – In Massachusetts, public employees have the right to report any fraudulent activity, waste, or abuse in the workplace under the whistleblower act. The inspector general will receive any complaints and keep the whistleblower’s identity secret during the investigation. Retaliatory actions against whistleblowers are not allowed as long as the allegations are legitimate. The state also protects anyone who has information related to a violation from harassment, harm, or property damage. Anyone who retaliates against a whistleblower can face up to 10 years in state prison or a fine of $1,000 to $5,000.
  • Recordkeeping Laws – Employers are required to maintain precise and up-to-date records of all their employees while on the job. Such records must be kept in a secure location at the workplace for a minimum of 3 years following the date of initial entry. It’s important that these employee records include pertinent information like their name, address, occupation, social security number, and details about pay rate and hours worked both daily and weekly. Employers must also allow employees access to their own records at a reasonable time and location.

Massachusetts Payment Laws

Further, we will discuss minimum payment, exceptions for minimum payment and payment due date.

What is the Minimum Payment in Massachusetts?

The minimum wage required by law in Massachusetts increased to $15.00 per hour. Any wage lower than this amount will be regarded as “oppressive and unreasonable” as per the state’s minimum wage regulation.

In Massachusetts, tipped employees are defined as those who receive over $20 per month in tips. These employees are entitled to the “service rate” or a tipped minimum wage of $6.75 per hour. However, if their combined tips and wages do not add up to the state minimum wage of $15.00 per hour, employers must make up the difference. To ensure compliance, employers are now required to calculate the hourly earnings of tipped employees and guarantee that they earn at least the state minimum wage. Employers are prohibited from distributing tips to non-wait staff including managers, supervisors, and others who do not directly serve customers, even if they occasionally help with customer service.  

What are the Exceptions for Minimum Payment in Massachusetts?

Certain employees can be exempt from the minimum wage under both state and federal laws, but there are specific requirements that they must meet. For example:

  • executive and administrative employees, learned and creative professionals, and computer employees who earn at least $684 per week or $27.63 per hour
  • highly compensated employees who earn $107,432 or more per year
  • outside sales employees with no minimum salary requirement
  • members of a religious order
  • employees within certain nonprofit
  • religious or educational organizations
  • minors

Farm and agricultural workers aren’t required to comply with the minimum wage law and they should be compensated with $8 per hour. However, this doesn’t apply to people who are minors or those who work under an immediate family employer.

In Massachusetts, employers are allowed to pay employees under 18 the federal youth wage of $4.25 per hour for the first 90 days of employment. Trainee students working in hospitals or labs are entitled to 80% of basic minimum wage, as are minors working part-time in certain settings. Massachusetts also mandates “show up” pay, meaning employees who work for 3 hours or more and are sent home must still receive regular wages for those hours, with a minimum wage of $15. However, charitable organizations do not qualify for this type of pay.  

What is the Payment Due Date in Massachusetts?

In Massachusetts, hourly workers must be paid weekly or biweekly, depending on their agreement with their employer. If an hourly employee works 5-6 days a week, he or she must be paid within 6 days of the pay period’s termination. Meanwhile, salaried employees may opt to be paid biweekly, twice a month, or monthly. The employer must pay wages due within 7 days from the end of the pay period for employees working one to four days or seven days.

What are Massachusetts Overtime Laws?

According to federal law, any employee who works over 40 hours per week is entitled to overtime pay equal to one and a half times their regular rate of pay. Massachusetts follows the same rules. However, “tipped employees” who receive a service rate are only entitled to one and a half times the basic minimum wage, not their service rate. There are also exemptions in Massachusetts state law that may exclude certain employees from receiving overtime pay. Even if an employee is not entitled to overtime pay under state law, they may still be entitled to it under federal law. In these cases, the law that provides more benefits to the employee will prevail. For a deeper understanding of your overtime rights, read our detailed article on overtime rights in Massachusetts

What are Overtime Exceptions and Exemptions in Massachusetts?

In Massachusetts, there are certain employees and occupations that are not entitled to state overtime pay. Here’s the list of occupations exempt from overtime:

  • Janitors
  • Caretakers who live on residential property and earn at least $30 per week
  • Golf caddies
  • Newsboys
  • Child actors or performers
  • Certain executive, administrative or professional workers
  • Outside salesmen
  • Learners, apprentices or handicapped people under a special license
  • Fishermen and seamen
  • Switchboard operators
  • Truck drivers or helpers with maximum hours established by the ICC
  • Seasonal workers with 120 days or less
  • Gasoline station employees
  • Restaurant staff
  • Garagemen except for parking lot attendants
  • Hospital employees
  • Staff in non-profit schools, colleges or summer camps
  • Farmers and agricultural laborers
  • Employees in amusement parks who work 150 days or less per year.

Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), there are also certain employees and occupations that are exempt from overtime pay. These include executive employees earning a salary and making at least $684 per week, administrative employees earning a salary and making at least $684 per week, highly compensated employees making over $107,432 per year, learned and creative professionals earning a salary and making at least $684 per week, computer employees working on a salary basis and making at least $684 per week, and outside sales employees.

In the US, most salaried workers don’t receive overtime pay. However, a certain group of nonexempt salaried employees can receive overtime through the Fluctuating Workweek Method (FWW). If eligible, these employees will receive an additional one-half (0.5) times their regular hourly pay rate for each extra hour worked. The FWW method can be used by employees with a fluctuating workweek, a fixed salary, and who receive at least the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. Additionally, FWW employees may be entitled to bonuses, commissions, and hazard pay.  

Learn more in detail about Massachusetts Salaried Employees Laws and Massachusetts Overtime Laws.

What are Massachusetts Time Off/Break Laws?

While it is true that federal law does not oblige employers to give their workers any break or meal periods, the situation is different in Massachusetts, where a state law mandates such provisions. Specifically, any employee who works 6 hours or more in Massachusetts has the right to a minimum 30-minute meal break during which they are released from their duties and allowed to leave their work station. Moreover, if for some reason an employee cannot take this break, the employer is required to compensate them for the time. It’s also worth noting that employees can use their meal period for other activities, such as praying.

What are Massachusetts Breastfeeding Laws?

In Massachusetts, pregnant employees and those with pregnancy-related conditions are protected against discrimination. To enable them to fulfill their job responsibilities, their employers must provide “reasonable accommodations.” These may include extended or extra breaks, special seating or equipment, and a private space to express milk. The state law does not regulate how often such breaks can be taken, as it is up to the individual needs of each employee. Ideally, the breaks should last up to 20 minutes as per the US Department of Health and Human Services, but the arrangement is left up to the discretion and mutual agreement between the employer and employee. Please note that employers are not obliged to compensate employees for these breaks.  

What are Massachusetts Leave Laws?

Massachusetts is known for being employee-friendly when it comes to providing time off and leave benefits. Many businesses in the state observe additional premium rates despite any work on Sundays or weekends, which is not always the case in other parts of the country. Massachusetts provides two types of leaves – required and non-required leaves.  

What is Massachusetts Required Leave?

As an employer in Massachusetts, there are certain leave benefits that you are legally required to provide for your employees. These benefits include:

  • Earned Sick Time – In Massachusetts, employers are required by law to provide earned sick time to all their workers. The amount of sick leave an employee may earn per year is capped at 40 hours. However, the rules differ slightly for employers with 11 or more employees, who must provide 40 hours of paid sick leave, while those with fewer than 11 employees may offer up to 40 hours of unpaid sick leave. Anyone who works in the state, regardless of their employment status, is eligible for earned sick time – this includes full-time, part-time, seasonal, per-diem, or temporary workers. Nonetheless, certain categories of workers are exempt from this requirement, such as US government employees, FICA-exempt scholarship recipients, school-aged students under 20, and individuals participating in educational or vocational training programs, as well as independent contractors and municipal employees. Employees accumulate earned sick time gradually, accruing one hour for every thirty hours worked.
  • Holiday Leave (Public Employers) – In Massachusetts, both public and private sector employees have the right to enjoy paid or unpaid holiday leave, albeit with some specific conditions that apply to private workers. In case a holiday falls on a Sunday, employees are entitled to the following Monday as an off day. Likewise, on Saturdays when a holiday is observed, all public offices will stay open on the previous Friday, allowing for an extended three-day weekend. However, managers and confidential employees are exempted from working that Friday, and instead, they get an extra day off in lieu of it.
  • Holiday Leave (Private Employers) – In Massachusetts, the majority of private workers are entitled to holiday leave thanks to the state’s “Blue Laws”. These laws are in place to regulate working hours for certain businesses, and even require some employers to pay premium pay on Sundays and legal holidays. Here are the working regulations and obligations for businesses on Sundays: retail establishments can be open at any time without a permit, but those with more than 7 workers must pay a premium rate for working on Sundays. Non-retail establishments need a permit to operate on Sundays, and some exemptions may apply. Manufacturers can operate on Sundays without a permit in limited circumstances, but must obtain one if they wish to open regularly.
  • Paid Family and Medical Leave (PFML) – Massachusetts has its own Paid Family and Medical Leave (PFML) program, which is different from the federal Family and Medical Leave Act in that it is funded by contributions from both employers and employees. The program offers paid leave for up to a certain number of weeks per benefit year, ranging from 12 to 26 weeks, depending on the reason for the leave. PFML allows users to take more than one type of leave in a benefit year, but the maximum amount of paid leave in a year is 26 weeks. To be eligible for benefits, an employee must have earned at least $5,700 over the previous four quarters and 30 times the benefit amount they qualify for. They must also apply for leave at least 60 days before it begins and notify their employer at least 30 days beforehand. The amount of benefits paid out depends on the employee’s average weekly earnings, the average weekly earnings for workers in Massachusetts, and the type of leave being taken. The maximum benefit is $1,084.31 per week.
  • Military Leave – If you are serving in the military for the Commonwealth or a local government, you have the right to receive pay during your time of service. As a military member, you are also entitled to the same benefits as other employees. This includes things like paid leave and vacations. If you are a reserve component of the US military, you can receive payment for up to 34 days during a state fiscal year and 17 days during a federal fiscal year.
  • Donor Leave – Massachusetts provides its employees with leave time for several types of donations. State employees can donate blood up to 5 times a year during work hours, and may receive up to 4 paid hours per donation. Executive Department employees can take up to 5 paid days to donate bone marrow and recover, or up to 30 paid workdays a year for organ donation and recovery time. These benefits reflect the state’s commitment to supporting its workers in their efforts to make a positive impact on the community.
  • Jury Duty Leave – In the United States, it is a civic duty of all citizens to serve as a juror if they are summoned to appear in court. Massachusetts has a law that allows employees to take time off from work for jury duty without losing any of their regular pay.
  • Voting Leave – If any full-time or regular part-time worker is required to vote during their working hours, they must be provided with up to two hours of paid leave.
  • Court Leave Due to Witness Summons – When employees get summoned to court to testify on behalf of a government agency, they are entitled to court leave and their regular pay. But, if they receive any fees for their testimony, these must be given back to the agency.
  • Leave for Victims of Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault, and Stalking – Employees of the Executive Department who are victims of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking can avail themselves of certain benefits. They may take paid leave for up to 15 days to recover or seek counseling. They are also entitled to unpaid leave for up to six months, with the assurance of being able to return to work and receiving the same benefits they had prior to taking leave.
  • Volunteering Leave – Taking a leave to volunteer for a community or a charitable organization benefits both the individual and the community. Massachusetts offers various volunteering leaves and benefits, including paid leave for registered Red Cross volunteers, an employee volunteering program where eligible employees can get up to one day per month to volunteer during working hours, and unpaid leave for trained medical workers who volunteer under the National Disaster Medical System. These programs are designed to encourage and support employee involvement in volunteer activities.
  • Bereavement Leave – Employees who meet the requirements may take time off work when a family member or friend passes away. In Massachusetts, Executive Department employees can receive anywhere from 1 to 7 days of paid leave under these circumstances. Additionally, veterans in managerial or confidential positions are also eligible for paid leave to attend funerals of fellow veterans.
  • Inclement Weather Leave – In Massachusetts, all state employees are classified as either “emergency personnel” or “non-emergency personnel.” When bad weather hits, emergency personnel are expected to report to their assigned work location to help out. Meanwhile, non-emergency personnel still receive their regular pay even if they miss work due to an emergency situation.
  • Vacation Leave – Employees in Massachusetts now have the option to take up to 24 hours off work every year for unpaid leave purposes. This can specifically be used for activities such as the school or dental appointments of one’s child or elderly relative. However, it’s important to note that a company must have over 50 employees to be eligible for this leave policy, and the worker must have put in at least 1,250 hours within the past 12 months. Pay attention that this small necessities leave is distinct from the Family Medical Leave and should be handled as such.

What is Massachusetts Non-Required Leave?

Did you know that Massachusetts has a unique leave policy? Compared to other states, employers in Massachusetts are only exempt from providing vacation leave to their employees. Legally speaking, employers aren’t required to give their employees any vacation time benefits at all. However, if an employer does choose to offer paid vacation leave, then the payment for that time off would be considered the same as regular wages.

Here is a table of official federal holidays observed in Massachusetts:

Holiday Date
New Year’s Day 1 January
Martin Luther King Jr. Day Third Monday in January
Presidents’ Day Third Monday in February
Memorial Day Last Monday in May
Independence Day 4 July
Labor Day First Monday in September
Columbus Day Second Monday in October
Veterans Day 11 November
Thanksgiving Day Fourth Thursday in November
Day after Thanksgiving Fourth Friday in November
Christmas Day 25 December

What are Massachusetts Child Labor Laws?

In order to hire someone under the age of 18, employers in Massachusetts are required by state law to obtain a Youth Employment Permit in addition to federal regulations that apply. The goal of Massachusetts laws is to protect young people from being overworked or exploited while giving them the opportunity to gain work experience.  

What are the Laws on Working Hours for Minors in Massachusetts?

The regulations for minors’ working hours in Massachusetts are determined by age, type of work, and whether or not school is in session. The state places a strong emphasis on education and preventing exploitation of minors.

For those aged 16 and 17, work is permitted between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. on regular school days, and until 11:30 p.m. on non-school nights. At restaurants or racetracks, work can take place until midnight. They may work up to 48 hours a week, with a maximum of 9 hours per day and 6 days per week.

For 14 and 15-year-olds, work is allowed from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. during school term, and until 9 p.m. during the summer period. They may work up to 18 hours per week during term time, with no more than 3 hours a day on school days. On non-school days, they can work up to 8 hours a day and 6 days a week, reaching a total of 40 hours during non-school periods.

Any minors working after 8 p.m. need to be supervised by an adult, except for locations with on-site security personnel, like shopping malls.  

What are the Banned Jobs for Minors in Massachusetts?

According to the Secretary of Labor, children under 18 years old cannot work in occupations that pose physical, emotional, or moral risks. The following jobs are prohibited for minors under 16, including:

  • handling power-driven machinery
  • cooking on non-electric or non-gas grills
  • operating certain kitchen equipment

For minors under 18:

  • driving vehicles,
  • handling alcohol, and certain food preparation jobs are also not allowed

However, minors under 14 can work in certain situations, such as:

  • on farms
  • as news carriers
  • in family businesses
  • in entertainment with a permit

If you employ minors, it’s important to keep a printed notice in a visible place stating the number of hours they’re allowed to work, including the number of hours per day and week, workday start and end times, and start and end times for rest or meal periods. In Massachusetts, forging a birth certificate or other evidence of age to obtain a work permit is illegal and punishable by a fine of $10-$500, imprisonment for up to 1 year, or both.  

Learn more in detail about Massachusetts Child Labor Laws.

Important Cautionary Note

This content is provided for informational purposes only. While we make every effort to ensure the accuracy of the information presented, we cannot guarantee that it is free of errors or omissions. Users are advised to independently verify any critical information and should not solely rely on the content provided.