Massachusetts Minimum Wage Laws




Minimum wage

Massachusetts’ current minimum wage is $10.00.

Massachusetts’s minimum wage will increase to $11.00 on January 1, 2017.
MA Laws 151-1; MA Dept. of Labor and Workforce Dev. – Minimum Wage Announcement

Massachusetts minimum wage laws require that the state’s minimum wage remains at least fifty (50) cents higher than the federal minimum wage set forth in the Fair Labor Standards Act. MA Laws 151-1.

Massachusetts employers must also comply with federal minimum wage laws, which currently sets the federal minimum wage at $7.25. See FLSA: Minimum Wage.

If an employer chooses to pay employees minimum wage, the employer must pay those employees in accordance with the minimum wage law, either federal or state, that results in the employees being paid the higher wage. In most instances in Massachusetts, the Massachusetts minimum wage will apply as it generally guarantees a higher wage rate for employees than federal law.




Tipped minimum wage

Massachusetts’ minimum wage for tipped employees, also known as the service rate, is $3.35.

Massachusetts’ tipped minimum wage will increase to $3.75 on January 1, 2017. MA Laws 151-7

To qualify as a tipped employee, an employee must customarily and regularly receive more than $20 a month in tips or service charges. MA Laws 149-152A; MA Laws 151-7; MA Regs. 454-27.02

Tips are defined as money, gifts, or gratuities paid by customers to wait staff, service employees, or service bartenders as an acknowledgment of services performed. Customers may pay tips by credit card. MA Laws 149-152A

Service charges are defined as fees charged by employers to customers, whether designated as service charges, tips, gratuities, or fees, that the customer would reasonably believe would be given to wait staff, service employees, and service bartenders instead of or in addition to tips. MA Laws 149-152A Employers must distribute service charges paid by customers to the wait staff, service employees, and service bartenders instead of or in addition to tips that provided services to the customer. However, an employer may charge customers administrative fees that do not need to be distributed employees but only if the employer has informed the customers in writing that the fee is not a tip or a service charge. MA Laws 149-152A(d)

A wait staff employee is an employee who:

  • serves beverages or prepared food directly to customers or clears tables;
  • works in a restaurant, banquet facility, or other place where beverages and/or prepared food is served; and
  • has not managerial responsibilities.

MA Laws 149-152A

A service employee is an employee who:

  • works in an occupation in which tips are customarily received;
  • provides services directly to customers;
  • provides services other than food or beverage services;
  • has no managerial responsibilities.

MA Laws 149-152A

A service bartender is an employee who prepares beverages for customers that are served by other employees. MA Laws 149-152A

Before an employer can pay an employee the service rate, the following three requirements must be met:

  • the employer must inform the employee of its rights as a tipped employee;
  • the employee is paid the standard minimum wage when the employee’s service rate wages earned are combined with tips received;
  • the employee retains all tip he or she receives or the tips are distributed through a valid tip pooling agreement.

MA Laws 149-152A; MA Laws 151-7; MA Regs. 454-27.03(2)

Employers must typically pay tips or service charges to employees the same day received, but in no case later than the next payday. MA Laws 149-152A



Tip pooling and sharing

An employer may require employees to participate in a tip pooling or sharing arrangement. However, the tip pool must be limited exclusively to wait staff, service employees, and service bartenders and tips must be divided in proportion to the service provided by the employees in the pool. MA Laws 149-152A(c); MA Laws 151-7; MA Regs. 454-27.03(2)



Subminimum wage

Employees with disabilities

Massachusetts minimum wage laws allow employers to pay employees with disabilities less than the standard minimum wage if they receive a certificate from the Department of Labor and Workforce Development allowing them to do so. Eligible employees include individuals whose earning capacity is limited by age or physical or mental disability or injury or individuals who have been designated as handicap by the Department of Health and Human Services. MA Laws 151-9; MA Regs. 454-27.06(2).



Trainees

Massachusetts minimum wage laws allow hospitals or laboratories to obtain a special license to pay 80 percent of the applicable minimum wage to students whose employment is part of a formal training program. The license is issued by the Department of Labor and Workforce Development which sets a fixed period of time the license will be valid. MA Regs. 454-27.06(1)(a).



Apprentices

Massachusetts minimum wage laws allow employers to pay apprentices a subminimum wage that is not less than 80 percent of the standard minimum wage if they obtain a special license to do so from Massachusetts’ Department of Labor. The license may be issued for apprentices who work full-time or part-time and will fix the period of time for which the license will be valid. MA Regs. 454-27.06(1)(e).



Learners

Massachusetts minimum wage laws allow employers to pay learners a subminimum wage that is not less than 80 percent of the standard minimum wage if they obtain a special license to do so from Massachusetts Department of Labor and Workforce Development. The license may be issued for learners who work full-time or part-time and will fix the period of time for which the license will be valid. MA Regs. 454-27.06(1)(e).



Student learners

Massachusetts minimum wage laws do not allow employers to pay student learners a subminimum wage rate that is less than the standard minimum wage.



Student workers

Massachusetts minimum wage laws allow schools, college, universities, or bona fide education institutions to pay enrolled students who work for the institution a subminimum wage rate that is no less than 80 percent of the standard minimum wage if they obtain a special license to do so from the Massachusetts Department of Labor and Workforce Development. The license issued by the Department of Labor and Workforce Development will fix the period of time for which the license will be valid. MA Regs. 454-27.06(1)(b).

Massachusetts minimum wage laws allow employers to pay students working as camp counselors or counselor trainees a subminimum wage rate that is not less than 80 percent of the standard minimum wage if they obtain a special license to do so from the Massachusetts Department of Labor and Workforce Development. To be considered a camp counselor or counselor trainee, the employee must be involved directly with camp programming and camper supervision. The license is issued by the Department of Labor and Workforce Development will set a fixed period of time the license will be valid. MA Regs. 454-27.06(1)(c).