Massachusetts Salaried Employees Laws

February 22nd 2024

Salaried employees are individuals who receive a predetermined fixed amount of compensation at regular intervals, such as weekly or less frequently. These employees are subject to specific regulations that govern their working conditions.

The purpose of this article is to offer an overview of the relevant laws and regulations that dictate the rights and responsibilities of both salaried employees and their employers in Massachusetts. It will address various aspects, including payment policies, break and leave entitlements, as well as the classification of exempt and non-exempt employees.

This article covers:

Payment of Wages for Salaried Employees in Massachusetts

In Massachusetts, salaried employees have the option to receive their pay biweekly, twice a month, or monthly.

Employers must pay wages within 7 days from the end of the pay period for employees working one to four days or seven days.

This differs from hourly employees who are required to be paid either weekly or biweekly, as agreed upon with their employer. If an hourly worker works for 5-6 days a week, they should receive their payment within 6 days after the pay period ends.

Salaried Employees Eligibility for Overtime in Massachusetts

In general, most Massachusetts employees are entitled to 1.5 times their regular hourly rate for any hours worked beyond 40 in a workweek, but state law doesn’t mandate overtime pay for hours worked beyond 8 in a day.

Being paid on a salaried basis doesn’t automatically exclude an employee from overtime pay. Whether an employee qualifies for overtime depends on the job nature and the employer’s classification.

Some nonexempt salaried employees can also receive overtime through the Fluctuating Workweek Method (FWW). Eligible employees will receive an additional half (0.5) times their regular hourly pay rate for each extra hour worked. The FWW method is applicable to 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.

Pay for Working Overtime for Massachusetts Salaried Employees

To calculate their overtime rate, salaried employees must divide their salary by the number of hours it compensates for, which gives them the regular rate.

Then, they can determine their overtime pay by multiplying the regular rate by the number of overtime hours worked and the standard overtime rate of 1.5 per hour.

Overtime Rate for Salaried Employees = regular rate x Overtime Hours x Overtime Rate (1.5)

Example: An employee earning $1,000 for a 40-hour week.

$1,000 is divided by 40 hours to lead to a regular rate of $25. Then, multiply that by 1.5 to get the overtime rate, which would be $37.50. This rate is then multiplied by the number of overtime hours worked.

Although it may appear challenging, there are several methods for employers to establish overtime rates for their employees and ensure compliance with overtime regulations. Employees can utilize time clock software, employ a work hours tracker, or utilize different time tracking methods to ensure the accuracy of hours for these calculations.

Another option for overtime for salaried employees in Massachusetts is the “fluctuating work week” method, which applies under specific conditions. If an employee has a fixed salary regardless of the number of hours worked, and their weekly hours vary, and both the employee and employer agree to this arrangement, the employer can use this method. In the “fluctuating work week” method, the weekly salary of $1,000 is divided by the total hours worked in the week, including overtime, to determine the regular rate of pay. The employee will then be entitled only to the overtime premium, which is 0.5% of the hourly rate, for the extra hours. This approach assumes that the agreed salary covers “straight time” for all hours and only the 0.5% premium is owed. It’s crucial to note that the “fluctuating work week” method may not be appropriate or legal in all circumstances and is generally more favorable to the employer.

Exceptions to Overtime Exemptions for Massachusetts Salaried Employees

In Massachusetts, certain employees and occupations are exempt from receiving state overtime pay. This includes janitors, live-in caretakers earning at least $30 per week, golf caddies, newsboys, child actors or performers, certain executive, administrative or professional workers, outside salesmen, learners, apprentices or handicapped individuals under special licenses, 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, agricultural laborers, and employees in amusement parks working 150 days or less per year.

Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), certain employees and occupations are also exempt from overtime pay, such as 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.

Learn more in detail about Massachusetts Overtime Laws.

Violation of Salaried Employees Wages Payment in Massachusetts

In Massachusetts, if an employer breaches minimum wage regulations, they are required to pay three times the damages, potentially turning a $1,000 error into a $3,000 issue. Moreover, the law stipulates that the employer must bear the employee’s attorney fees and costs in case the employee prevails in a wage claim.

For employees in Massachusetts that can demonstrate they are owed wages, the employer could be liable to pay three times the owed sum along with the employee’s legal expenses.

However, if the employer settles the payment before the employee has filed a complaint, the damages may be limited to interest on the overdue amounts, which could also be tripled, but it might not be worthwhile pursuing unless the payment was significantly delayed.

Further, employers who intentionally or repeatedly disregard the FLSA’s overtime pay regulations may face a civil penalty of up to $1,000 for each violation.

Learn more about Penalties for Breaking Massachusetts Labor Laws.

Male and Female Salaried Employees in Massachusetts

The Massachusetts Equal Pay Act (MEPA) prohibits employers from engaging in gender-based discrimination when determining and paying wages. It mandates that employees of different genders should receive equal pay for comparable work, where “comparable work” is defined as work involving similar skill, effort, responsibility, and performed under comparable working conditions.

MEPA allows pay differences for comparable work only under specific circumstances, such as rewards based on seniority, a merit system, earnings tied to production, sales, or revenue, variations due to job location, education, training, or relevant experience, and regular, necessary travel as part of the job.

Notably, MEPA clarifies that employees’ salary histories are irrelevant and cannot be used as a defense by employers. Moreover, liability under the law can apply even if employers did not intend to discriminate based on gender.

Leave Entitlements for Salaried Employees in Massachusetts

In Massachusetts, salaried employees have access to various types of leave. Earned Sick Time is mandated by law and provides up to 40 hours of sick leave per year for all employees. Private sector employees are entitled to paid or unpaid holiday leave, with specific regulations for Sundays and Saturdays when holidays are observed.

The state offers Paid Family and Medical Leave (PFML) program, funded by contributions from employers and employees, providing up to 12 to 26 weeks of paid leave depending on the reason. Additionally, there is inclement weather leave and vacation leave options for eligible employees.

Military members serving the Commonwealth or local government receive pay during service and have entitlements similar to other employees, including paid leave and vacations. Massachusetts also provides leave for blood and organ donations, jury duty, voting, court testimony, and volunteering, while Executive Department employees have access to bereavement leave.

Break Entitlements for Salaried Employees in Massachusetts

Although federal law does not require employers to provide breaks or meal periods to their workers, Massachusetts has its own state law that mandates such provisions.

In Massachusetts, any employee who works for 6 hours or more has the right to a minimum 30-minute meal break. During this break, employees must be relieved of their duties and allowed to leave their workstation. If an employee is unable to take the break for any reason, the employer is obligated to compensate them for the time. Additionally, employees can use their meal period for other activities, including praying.

Deductions from Exempt Employees’ Salary in Massachusetts

Employers are only allowed to deduct money from a worker’s pay if it is permitted by law, such as for wage withholding taxes, or if the worker requested the deduction for personal benefit, like saving money. Hence, it’s essential to calculate deductions and breaks accurately to avoid penalties.

Employers are prohibited from taking money from a worker’s pay to cover the employer’s regular business expenses, such as supplies, materials, or tools required for the worker’s job.

Additionally, there are regulations concerning the timing and amount of money an employer can deduct for housing and meals provided to the worker. If an employer requires a worker to purchase or rent a uniform, the employer must bear the cost of the uniform or promptly reimburse the actual expenses incurred by the worker.

Termination of Employment for Salaried Employees in Massachusetts

In Massachusetts, employees have the freedom to be terminated or resign without providing a specific reason. However, there are certain rules concerning the termination of employment in the state.

When an employee chooses to resign, they must be paid in full on the next regular payday or on the following Saturday if there is no regular payday. On the other hand, if an employee is terminated, they must be paid in full on the day of the discharge.

Learn more about Massachusetts Labor Laws through our detailed guide.

Important Cautionary Note

When making this guide we have tried to make it accurate but we do not give any guarantee that the information provided is correct or up-to-date. We therefore strongly advise you seek advice from qualified professionals before acting on any information provided in this guide. We do not accept any liability for any damages or risks incurred for use of this guide.