Massachusetts

Labor Compliance Guide

Hours & Pay Regulations

Normal Working Hours

Reporting Pay

When an employee who is scheduled to work 3 or more hours reports for duty at the time set by the employer, and that employee is not provided with the expected hours of work, the employee shall be paid for at least 3 hours on such day at no less than the basic minimum wage.

 

On-call Time

All on-call time is compensable working time unless the employee is not required to be at the work site or another location, and is effectively free to use his or her time for his or her own purposes.

 

Sleeping Time and Working Shifts

An employee required to be on duty at the work site for less than 24 hours is working even if the employee is permitted to sleep or engage in other personal activities when not busy.

 

Travel Time

Ordinary travel between home and work is not compensable working time. If an employee who regularly works at a fixed location is required to report to a location other than his or her regular work site, the employee shall be compensated for all travel time in excess of his or her ordinary travel time between home and work and shall be reimbursed for associated transportation expenses.

 

If an employer requires an employee to report to a location other than the work site or to report to a specified location to take transportation, compensable work time begins at the reporting time and includes subsequent travel to and from the work site.

An employee required or directed to travel from one place to another after the beginning of or before the close of the workday shall be compensated for all travel time and shall be reimbursed for all transportation expenses.

Overtime

Under state law, most employers are required to pay nonexempt employees 1.5 times their regular rates of pay for all hours worked in excess of 40 in a week.

Breaks

Day of rest

Most employers must allow a worker to have one day off after 6 consecutive days of work. This day off must include an unbroken period between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.

 

Breast Feeding Break

Effective April 1, 2018, employers must provide reasonable accommodations for pregnancy and related conditions, including lactation and the need to express breast milk. Breaks may either be paid or unpaid under the law. However, if the employer does provide paid breaks to employees, the employer must allow the employee to use those paid breaks to breastfeed or express breast milk. Guidance from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office on Women’s Health suggests that breaks may typically last approximately 15 to 20 minutes, plus additional time to get to and from the break room and set up and break down equipment.

 

For an employer to deny a reasonable accommodation for an employee’s pregnancy or any condition related to the employee’s pregnancy, including, but not limited to, lactation, or the need to express breast milk for a nursing child, if the employee so requests, unless the employer can demonstrate that the accommodation would impose an undue hardship on the employer’s program, enterprise or business.

Sunday Work

Generally, non-retail businesses cannot operate on Sundays, unless they fall within one of the exemptions. However, for all businesses, a permit for work on Sundays may be issued by the police chief of the city or town where the business is located. A permit may be issued only for necessary work or labor which could not be performed on any other day without serious suffering, loss, damage or public inconvenience, or which could not be performed on any other day without delay to military defense work.

Public Holidays

For work on a partially restricted holiday, 1.5 times their regular rate is required to be paid. Whoever requires an employee to work in any mill or factory on any legal holiday, except to perform such work as is both absolutely necessary and can lawfully be performed on Sunday, shall be punished by a fine of not more than fifteen hundred dollars.

Annual Leave

Vacation payments are wages. Employers who offer vacation should have clear, written vacation policies. They should give each worker a copy of the policy when the worker is hired and ask the worker to acknowledge in writing that the worker understands the policy.

Minimum Wage

Effective January 1, 2017, Massachusetts’s hourly minimum wage is $11, and the state’s hourly minimum cash wage for tipped employees is $3.75, based on a maximum tip credit of $7.25. The amounts are increases from the $10 hourly minimum wage and the hourly minimum cash wage for tipped employees of $3.35, which were in effect in 2016.

 

Effective January 1, 2019, Massachusetts’s hourly minimum wage will increase to $12, and the state’s hourly minimum cash wage for tipped employees will increase to $4.35, based on a maximum tip credit of $7.65.

 

The state’s standard hourly minimum wage must be at least 50 cents more than the federal minimum wage.

Tips & Gratuities

Effective January 1, 2017, the state’s hourly minimum cash wage for tipped employees is $3.75, based on a maximum tip credit of $7.25, an increase from the $3.35 tipped-employee cash wage in effect in 2015.

 

Waitstaff, service employees and service bartenders may be paid the tipped-employee rate if they regularly receive tips of more than $20 a month and if their average hourly tips, when added to the tipped-employee service rate is equal to or exceeds the minimum wage ($10 in 2016, $11 in 2017 and $12 in 2019). Tip pooling among employees who regularly receive tips is permitted, but employers may not force employees to surrender tips into a pool.

Meal Breaks

Employees working more than 6 hours get a meal break. Workers have a right to at least a 30-minute meal break for every 6 hours worked in a calendar day. During their meal break, workers must be free of all duties and free to leave the workplace. This break may be unpaid. Employers may require workers to take their meal breaks. Employees may agree to work through their meal breaks, but they must be paid. Meal breaks may be used for prayer or other activities.

 

Where an employee is required to be on duty at the work site for 24 hours or more, the employer and employee may agree in writing prior to performance of the work to exclude bona fide meal periods and a bona fide regularly scheduled sleeping period of not more than eight hours from working time, provided the employer provides adequate sleeping quarters and the employee can enjoy an uninterrupted period of sleep. If no prior written agreement is made, sleeping time and meal time will constitute compensable working time.

Special Leave

Earned Sick Leave

Employees who work for employers having eleven or more employees may earn and use up to 40 hours of paid sick time per the calendar year, while employees working for smaller employers may earn and use up to 40 hours of unpaid sick time per the calendar year. Earned sick time shall be provided by an employer for an employee to:

      • Care for the employee’s child, spouse, parent, or parent of a spouse, who is suffering from a physical or mental illness, injury, or medical condition that requires home care, professional medical diagnosis or care, or preventative medical care; or
      • Care for the employee’s own physical or mental illness, injury, or medical condition that requires home care, professional medical diagnosis or care, or preventative medical care; or
      • Attend the employee’s routine medical appointment or a routine medical appointment for the employee’s child, spouse, parent, or parents of spouse; or
      • An employer shall provide a minimum of one hour of earned sick time for every thirty hours worked by an employee to address the psychological, physical or legal effects of domestic violence. Employees shall begin accruing earned sick time commencing with the date of hire of the employee or the date this law becomes effective, whichever is later, but employees shall not be entitled to use accrued earned sick time until the 90th calendar day following commencement of their employment. On and after this 90 day period, employees may use earned sick time as it accrues.
Unpaid Leave
Employees may be eligible to take unpaid, job-protected, leave under the Family Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”). Please refer to main United States page for further details on this Federal law.
Service Member Family Leave

An eligible employee who is the spouse, son, daughter, parent, or next of kin of a covered service member shall be entitled to a total of 26 workweeks of leave during a 12-month period to care for the service member. The leave described in this paragraph shall only be available during a single 12-month period.

Domestic Violence Leave

An employer shall permit an employee to take up to 15 days of leave from work in any 12 month period if:

            • The employee, or a family member of the employee, is a victim of abusive behavior; or
            • The employee is using the leave from work to seek or obtain medical attention, counseling, victim services or legal assistance, secure housing, obtain a protective order from a court, appear in court or before a grand jury, meet with a district attorney or other law enforcement official or attend child custody proceedings or address other issues directly related to the abusive behavior against the employee or family member of the employee.
Parental Leave

This leave applies to all parents, men, and women, whose employers have six or more employees. Under the law, parents are eligible for 8 weeks of leave per child. If both parents work for the same employer, they shall only be entitled to 8 weeks of leave in the aggregate for the birth or adoption of the same child. Leave may be with or without pay at the discretion of the employer.

Small Neccesitative Leave

An eligible employee shall be entitled to a total of 24 hours of leave during any 12 month period, in addition, to leave available under the federal act, to:

          • Participate in school activities directly related to the educational advancement of a son or daughter of the employee, such as parent-teacher conferences or interviewing for a new school;
          • Accompany the son or daughter of the employee to routine medical or dental appointments, such as check-ups or vaccinations; and
          • Accompany an elderly relative of the employee to routine medical or dental appointments or appointments for other professional services related to the elder’s care, such as interviewing at nursing or group homes. An eligible employee may elect, or an employer may require the employee, to substitute any of the accrued paid vacation leave, personal leave, or medical or sick leave of the employee for any of the leave provided under this section, but nothing in this section shall require an employer to provide paid sick leave or paid medical leave in any situation in which the employer would not normally provide any such paid leave. Leave under this section may be taken intermittently or on a reduced leave schedule.
Veteran Day and Memorial Day Leave

Veterans may be entitled to paid or unpaid leave from work on Veterans Day and Memorial Day.

Voting Leave

Massachusetts laws require that employees who apply be granted a leave of absence to vote during the two hours after the polls open in their districts. Payment for voting time is at the discretion of the employer. Most employees have time to vote before or after work. One or two hours in most cases is the maximum time needed to vote. Employees should explain their reasons for needing more time and may also be requested to prove that they have voted by providing the name of the precinct where they cast their ballot.

MASS-Paid Family and Medical Leave Programme

Effective January 2019, an employee or self-employed person is eligible for a maximum of 12 weeks of family leave in a benefit year; provided, however, that eligibility for family leave taken because of –

      • The birth of a child of the employee; or
      • The placement of a child with the employee for adoption or foster care shall expire at the end of the 12-month period beginning on the date of the birth or placement.

An employee or self-employed person is eligible for medical leave for a maximum of 26 weeks in a benefit year. An employee or self-employed person may take an aggregate of no more than 26 weeks of family and medical leave in the same benefit year. Nothing shall prevent an employee or self-employed person from taking a medical leave during pregnancy and recovery from childbirth if supported by documentation by a health care provider, immediately followed by family leave, in which case the seven-day waiting period for family leave will not be required.

 

An employee may take leave intermittently or on a reduced leave schedule, provided that the employee and the employer agree to the said intermittent or reduced leave schedule. The employer shall engage in a timely, good faith, and an interactive process with the employee to determine a reasonable intermittent or reduced leave schedule. The taking of leave intermittently or on a reduced leave schedule shall not result in a reduction in the total amount of leave to which the employee is entitled.

 

As of 2018, Massachusetts law requires all employers, even if they employ less than 50 employees, to provide 8 weeks of parental leave for the purpose of giving birth to a child or for the placement of an adopted child under the age of 18, or under the age of 23 if the child is mentally or physically disabled. If two employees are employed by the same employer, they are entitled to an aggregate total of 8 weeks of parental leave for the birth or adoption of any one child. As of 2018, Massachusetts law does not require that the leave is paid.

 

As of 2018, Massachusetts employers must provide up to 24 hours of leave annually in order for employees to participate in school activities directly related to the educational advancement of the employee’s child. The allotted 24 hours may also be used by an employee to accompany a child or elderly relative of the employee to medical or dental appointments. Additionally, an employer may require the employee to substitute any accrued paid vacation, personal or medical or sick leave for some or all of the 24 hours used for these purposes.

Donor Leave

An employee of the commonwealth or of a county, or of a city or town, may take a paid leave of absence of not more than 30 days in a calendar year to serve as a solid organ donor. (§149:33E).

Last updated on: February 7th, 2019