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Massachusetts - Wage Payment Laws - Employment Law Handbook

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Frequency of Wage Payments

An employer must pay wages weekly or every two (2) weeks. An employer must pay employees who work five (5) or six (6) days in a calendar week within six (6) days of the end of the pay period. An employer must pay employees who work seven (7) days in a calendar week within seven (7) days of the end of the pay period. An employer must pay employees who work fewer than five (5) days in a calendar week within seven (7) days of the end of the pay period. An employer may pay employees engaged in a bona fide executive, administrative or professional capacity as determined by the attorney general weekly, every two (2) weeks or twice per month, however, such employees can elect at their own option to be paid monthly. Massachusetts Gen. Law 149:148



 

Manner of Wage Payments

An employer may pay wages by cash and by check redeemable at face value without deduction. Massachusetts Gen. Law 149:148
 

 

Direct Deposit

Massachusetts law appears to be silent regarding an employer’s ability to pay employee by direct deposit. Although it is likely employers may pay employees by direct deposit, the law does not indicate whether an employer can require an employee to be paid by direct deposit.
 

 

Payment upon Separation from Employment

Employees who are fired, discharged, terminated, or laid off

When an employer discharges or lays off an employee, the employer must pay the employee all wages due on the day of the discharge, except in Boston where they must be paid as soon as the employer has complied with the laws requiring pay rolls, bills and accounts to be certified. Massachusetts Gen. Law 149:148

Employees who quit or resign

When an employee quits, the employer must pay the employee all wages due by the next regular payday, or, if the employer does not have a regular payday, on the next Saturday. Massachusetts Gen. Law 149:148

Employees who are suspended or resigns due to a labor dispute (strike)

Massachusetts does not have a law specifically addressing the payment of wages to an employee who leaves employment due to a labor dispute, however, to ensure compliance with known laws, an employer should pay employees who resign due to a labor dispute no later than the next regular payday, or, if the employer does not have a regular payday, on the next Saturday. Massachusetts Gen. Law 149:148


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Wages in Dispute

Massachusetts does not have any laws requiring an employer to pay an employee wages conceded to be due when involved in a wage dispute with the employee.


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Deductions from Wages

Massachusetts law simply states that an employer may not make deductions from an employees wages if the deductions drop an employee’s effective wage rate below minimum wage, unless they are deductions pursuant to state or federal laws or deductions for meals and lodging provided by the employer. Mass. Min. Wage Reg. 455 CMR 2.00

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court held in Camara v. Attorney General, 458 Mass. 756 (January 25, 2011), held that an employer could only make deductions from an employee’s wages where “there exists a clear and established debt owed to the employer by the employee.” The court determined that an employer could not deduct from an employee’s wages the cost of damages to a company truck caused by the employee. This decision likely means that an employer would not be able to make deductions from an employees wages for:

  • cash shortages,
  • inventory shortages,
  • dishonored checks,
  • dishonored credit cards,
  • damages to the employer’s property in any form or
  • damage to any merchandise purchased by a customer.

See Mass. Office of Labor and Workforce Wage Deduction Notice


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Uniforms, Tools, and Other Equipment Necessary for Employment

There is no law that prohibits an employer from requiring an employee to pay for a uniform. An employer may not require an employee to put a deposit down for a required uniform, unless approved by the Mass. Department of Labor and Workforce Development. Mass. Min. Wage Reg. 455 CMR 2.04; Mass. Office of Labor and Workforce Uniform Deposit Waiver Application Policy. An employer may not require an employee to pay for the cost of the maintenance of uniforms requiring dry-cleaning, commercial laundering, or other special treatment, if the cost reduces the employee’s effective wage rate below minimum wage. Mass. Min. Wage Reg. 455 CMR 2.04. This restriction does not apply to “wash and wear” uniforms. Mass. Min. Wage Reg. 455 CMR 2.04.


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Pre-hire Medical, Physical, or Drug Tests

An employer who requests or requires an employee or applicant to undergo a medical examination by a physician designated by the employer, as a condition of employment, must reimburse the employee or applicant for the medical expenses requested or required. Massachusetts Gen. Law 149:159B


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Notice of Wage Reduction

Massachusetts does not have any laws addressing when or how an employer may reduce an employees wages or whether an employer must provide employees notice prior to instituting a wage reduction.


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Statement of Wages (Pay Stub)

An employer must provide to an employee at the time of payment a record of all deductions taken from wages, including:

  • social security,
  • unemployment compensation benefits,
  • pension,
  • vacation or health and welfare funds,
  • state taxes,
  • federal taxes,
  • dues check-off, and
  • contributions to credit unions.

Massachusetts Gen. Law 149:150A


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Record Keeping Requirements

An employer must keep for two years a true and accurate record of:

  • the name, address and occupation of each employee,
  • the amount paid each pay period to each employee, and
  • the hours worked each day and each week by each employee

Massachusetts Gen. Law 151:15; Mass. Min. Wage Reg. 455 CMR 2.06


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Notice Requirements

An employer must notify new employees in writing at the time of the first payment of his wages about the nature of any deduction or contribution. Massachusetts Gen. Law 149:150A


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