Massachusetts Labor Laws 2024 | Wage and Hour Laws in Massachusetts


Massachusetts Labor Laws

Massachusetts labor laws, including Massachusetts labor laws 2024, impact the daily lives of employees and employers in Massachusetts. Residents of Massachusetts have many questions that affect them every day regarding Massachusetts labor laws from minimum wage rates, overtime, wage payments, vacation and sick leave, child labor, meal and rest breaks, and more.

In addition to Massachusetts labor laws, employer must also comply with federal labor laws such as the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA), and many other federal laws. And when federal laws are different from state Massachusetts labor laws, usually companies must comply with the law that provides their workers the best protection.

Below we provide comprehensive information and resources regarding your more pressing Massachusetts labor law questions to help you answer the question and help you make the right decision about you and your employment.



Minimum Wage

Massachusetts’ current minimum wage is $14.25.

The minimum wage in Massachusetts will increase to $15 per hour on January 1, 2023. Law states that the basic minimum wage in Massachusetts must be at least $0.50 higher than the federal minimum wage as set in the Fair Labor Standards Act. For employees who earn tips, the minimum wage is $6.15 per hour, which will increase to $6.75 per hour on January 1, 2023. For an employee to qualify as a tipped employee, they must regularly earn $20 in tips per month. 

For more information on Massachusetts state law about minimum wage, visit our Massachusetts Minimum Wage Laws page, which includes topics such as minimum wage, tip minimum wage, tip sharing, and pooling, and subminimum wages.

Related topics covered on other pages include:


Overtime

Massachusetts labor laws require employers to pay employees overtime at a rate of one and one-half times (1½ times) their regular rate of pay when they work 40 hours or more in a workweek, unless otherwise exempt. MA Statute 151-1A; Mass. Labor and Workforce Development FAQ. See FLSA: Overtime for more information regarding overtime pay requirements.


Blue Laws

Massachusetts maintains laws, known as Blue Laws, that limit an employer’s ability to require employees to work on Sundays and some holidays. Also, in situations where employers are permitted to employ employees on Sundays or holidays, they may be required to pay those employees at a rate of 1½ times their regular rate. See Holiday Leave, Mass. Blue Laws Overview.


Prevailing Wages

Under certain circumstances, employers in Massachusetts may be required to pay residents wage rates established by the federal or state prevailing wage rates and rules. The prevailing wage rates may be different from the state’s standard minimum wage rates.

Employees may be eligible for prevailing wages if they work on federal or state government or government-funded construction projects or perform certain federal or state government services. See the Massachusetts Prevailing Wages, Davis-Bacon and Related Acts, McNamara-O’Hara Service Contract Act (SCA), and Walsh-Healey Public Contracts Act (PCA) for more information about prevailing wages.


Meals and Breaks

Under Massachusetts labor laws, employers may not require employees to work more than six hours in a calendar day without providing them a 30-minute break, except in those situations listed below. MA Statute 149-100. The break period may be unpaid if employees are (1) free from all duties and (2) free to leave the workplace during the break. MA Dept. of Labor and Workforce Dev., Opinion Letter 08-05-03.

An employer must compensate an employee at least minimum wage for the 30-minute break if the employee has voluntarily agreed to forgo the break period by (1) working through his or her break or (2) remaining on the premises during the break at the request of the employer even though no work is performed. MA Dept. of Labor and Workforce Dev., Opinion Letter 08-05-03; see also MA Dept. of Labor and Workforce Dev., Opinion Letter 04-27-05.

Employers are not required to provide the 30-minute break to employees working in the following:

  • iron works,
  • glass works,
  • paper mills,
  • letterpress establishments,
  • print works,
  • bleaching works,
  • dyeing works, or
  • any other factories, workshops, or mechanical establishments the Attorney General of Massachusetts designates as exempt due to the continuous nature of the process or other special circumstance, so long as it does not result in injury to the affected employees.

MA Statute 149-101.


Nursing Mother Breaks

Massachusetts’ labor laws require employers to provide nursing employees which reasonable accommodations which includes giving the nursing employees time to express breast milk in private non-bathroom spaces. MA Statute 151-4A.


Vacation Leave

An employer in Massachusetts does not have to provide vacation benefits, unpaid or paid, to employees 

However, providing such benefits to employees must comply with the terms set out in the employment contract or vacation leave policy. 

If a business provides such benefits, the employer must compensate their workers for the accumulated leave time at the end of the contract or employment.

Employers are not allowed to force employees to forfeit their vested or accrued vacation time at the end of employment. 

However, a business may cap the number of leave hours an employee may accumulate. Employers in Massachusetts may also have a use-it or lose-it vacation leave policy. 

Information about Massachusetts vacation leave laws may now be found on our Massachusetts Leave Laws page.


Sick Leave

Massachusetts requires employers to provide sick leave to eligible employees. The law states that workers will earn at least one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked and may accrue up to 40 hours of job-protected sick days per year. Eligible employees may take sick time:

  • to care for the employee’s family member including a child, spouse, parent, or parent of a spouse, who suffers from a physical or mental illness, injury, or medical condition that requires home care, professional medical diagnosis or care, or preventative medical care;
  • to 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;
  • to attend regular medical appointments for the employee or the employee’s child, spouse, parent, or parent of a spouse;
  • to address the psychological, physical, or legal effects of domestic violence; and
  • to travel to and from an appointment, a pharmacy, or other location related to the purpose for sick leave was taken.

Information about Massachusetts sick leave laws may now be found on our Massachusetts Leave Laws page.


Paid Family and Medical Leave

Massachusetts provides employees to obtain temporary income replacement under the Paid Family and Medical Leave (PFML) program. Eligible employees may take the paid family leave or medical leave when they are welcoming a new child into their family, are struck by a serious illness or injury, need to take care of an ill or ailing relative, and for certain military considerations.

According to the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and other federal guidelines, employers in Massachusetts may also provide employees with unpaid extended sick leave for serious health conditions.


Holiday Leave

In Massachusetts, employers may compel employees to work on certain holidays. Moreover, retailers with seven employers or more must pay a premium wage on various holidays, including New Year’s Day, Columbus Day, Veteran’s Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, etc.  The holiday leave laws in Massachusetts vary according to the type of work done, whether manufacturing, non-retail, or retail.

Information about Massachusetts holiday leave laws may now be found on our Massachusetts Leave Laws page.


Jury Duty Leave

Employers in Massachusetts must allow employees to take time off to serve on jury duty and compensate standard workers their regular wages during the first three days of jury service. However, wages will not be paid past the first three days. A “regular” employee is defined as full-time, temporary, part-time, or casual. An employer may not coerce, threaten, penalize, discharge, harass, or deny benefits to an employee because of jury service. 

Information about Massachusetts jury duty leave laws may now be found on our Massachusetts Leave Laws page.


Voting Leave

Massachusetts law prohibits employers from forcing employees to work within two hours of the opening of the polls if they work in a mercantile setting, in a mechanical setting, or in manufacturing. Other than in these industries, employers are not required to provide their employees with unpaid or paid leave to vote. Generally, workers in Massachusetts must vote on their own time.

Information about Massachusetts voting leave laws may now be found on our Massachusetts Leave Laws page.


Severance Pay

Massachusetts labor laws do not require employers to provide employees with severance pay. MA Off. of Labor FAQs. If an employer chooses to provide severance benefits, it must comply with the terms of its established policy or employment contract.


Unemployment

Under certain circumstances, Massachusetts residents may be eligible for unemployment benefits while they search for another job. You are required to certify that you are unemployed on a weekly basis to receive these benefits.

Various qualifications must be met for a worker in Massachusetts to qualify for unemployment insurance. For example, the worker must have earned at least $5,700 during the last four completed calendar quarters and earned 30 times the weekly benefit amount they would be eligible to collect.

In addition, they must be legally authorized to work in the US, unemployed or working significantly reduced hours, and they must be able and willing to work and search for new employment. Unemployment cannot be the employee’s fault for them to qualify for unemployment insurance.

See Massachusetts State Unemployment Benefits.


Other Massachusetts Labor Laws Massachusetts Labor Laws Topics and Resources

There are several other Massachusetts labor laws governing the employers and their workplaces. Below are those topics and resources:

  • Massachusetts child labor laws for children 17 years of age and younger including topics including work during school hours and summer hours, school days and non-school days, summer days of employment (usually June 1 to Labor Day), hour restrictions, work permits, and hazardous occupations.
  • The Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD) protects employees workplace civil rights and against employment discrimination and retaliation. Employees are also protected by federal discrimination laws enforced by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The state and federal discrimination laws offer employees protections and violations based on the following:
Disability (a mental or physical impairment)Sex, including sexual harassmentGender expressionNational Origin
RaceSexual orientationReligionAncestry
CreedGender identityAge (40+)Pregnancy, childbirth, and related conditions
ColorGenetic informationMental illnessCriminal record (inquiries only)
Active military personnelGeneticsRetaliation
  • Massachusetts wage laws regarding payment of wages laws including covering frequency and manner of wage payments, regular paydays, payday, pay period, deductions, direct deposit and payroll cards, wage statement, record keeping, payroll records, final paychecks, and notice requirements.
  • Massachusetts labor laws regarding minimum wage and overtime exemptions covering non-exempt employees and exempt employees.
  • Massachusetts labor law regarding hours worked including rest breaks, meal breaks, on-call, waiting, travel, sleeping, and meeting times.
  • The Massachusetts Workplace Safety and Health Program (WSHP) helps employer comply with laws and regulations regarding workplace safety and health. Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) which covers federal workplace safety and health requirements.
  • Active duty employees, including those in the national guard, and veterans may also be eligible for military leave under the federal Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA).
  • Under the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Worker’s Compensation Act, Massachusetts employees are protected by worker compensation insurance benefits. Employees who are injured on the job may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits that minimizes the financial impact on the employee.
  • Under the federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act, employers in Massachusetts are required to provide 60-day advanced notice to any employees that may be impacted by a business closing or mass layoff if 50 or more employees will be impacted.
  • If Massachusetts employers provide employees health insurance benefits, they must comply with the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) that provides health coverage protections to employees under certain circumstances such as voluntary or involuntary job loss, reduction in the hours worked, transition between jobs, death, divorce, and other life events.
  • Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, employers must provide applicants and employees prior notice before conducting background checks involving credit reports. Other rules and limitation may also apply.

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