Massachusetts Labor Laws for Employees
When economic times are tough, labor laws sometimes are bent or ignored entirely by unscrupulous employers. This happens in part because workers may be unaware of their rights.
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts has some of the most labor-friendly laws in the country. Knowing your rights at work is the first step toward seeing them respected.
Breaks and Meals
Massachusetts requires employers to provide half an hour of unpaid time for employee meals every time a shift exceeds six hours in length. While many employers in the state may provide their employees with additional 10- or 15-minute breaks, such breaks are not required by law.
Massachusetts requires some employees to be paid their hourly wage plus one half on Sundays, regardless of how many hours they have worked on previous days of the week. This law applies to retail establishments that employ eight or more people each day of the week only.
Further, employees at retail establishments are never required to work on Sundays, and legal action may be taken against a business that attempts to compel employees to do so.
The issue of minimum wage for tipped employees is complicated in Massachusetts. There is a lower minimum wage for employees who garner more than $20 per month in tips as of 2020. Employers must inform workers that they are subject to this law.
Tips must be received directly by the employee or combined and allocated through a tip pool system–employers are not allowed to retain any part of the tip. Further, the employee’s wages must equal the state minimum wage when calculated by combining tips with wages. In the event of any shortfall, it is up to the employer to cover the difference.
In addition to minimum wage, Massachusetts has laws regarding how many hours an employee must be paid for at a minimum.
Employees who report on time for a shift of three hours in length or more must be paid for at least three hours even if their employer dismisses them early.
Minors may work in Massachusetts but are subject to a variety of special laws and restrictions. Dangerous and hazardous jobs are proscribed for employees younger than 18. No work may be performed during school hours except between July 1 and Labor Day.
Minors are also limited to the number of hours that they can work during the day and throughout the week, depending on their age and the time of year.