Massachusetts requires an employer to pay employees for all hours worked, also referred to as working time. Working time includes all time employees are required to be on duty and on the employer’s premises or at a designated workplace. It also includes any time employees work before or after their normal shift to complete assigned work. MA Regs. 454-27.02
Massachusetts’ law does not address what constitutes a workweek for purposes of it minimum wage and overtime requirements. The Massachusetts’ Department of Labor and Workforce Development and state courts have relied on the rules and regulations regarding workweeks set forth in the federal Fair Labor Standards Act, which defines a workweek as a fixed and regularly recurring period of 168 hours – seven (7) consecutive 24-hour periods (29 CFR 778.105). MA Dept. of Labor and Workforce Dev. Opinion Letter 07-21-08
Massachusetts minimum wage laws do not specifically address when employers must count employee waiting time as hours worked for purposes of minimum wage and overtime requirements. Based on the standards for hours worked and on-call time, an employer is likely required to pay an employee for waiting time if they are required to remain at the employer’s premises or other designated workplace and are not able to effectively use the time for their own purposes.
Massachusetts law does not require employers to pay an employee for on-call time if the employee is not required to be at the employer’s premises and if the employee is able to effectively use this time for his or her own personal purposes. MA Regs. 454-27.04(2). Conversely, employers must pay employees for on-call time if the employee is not able to leave the employer’s premises and/or effectively use the time for his or her own purposes.
Massachusetts law requires employers to count as hours worked time spent by employees sleeping or engaging in other personal activities when they are to be on duty less than 24 hours and the employees are permitted to engage in such activities when not busy.
If an employee is required to be on duty at the employer’s workplace for 24 hours or longer, the employer and employee may agree prior to the employee performing any work that the employee will not be compensated for bona fide sleeping periods that are regularly scheduled and do not last more than eight (8) hours. For the agreement to be valid, the employer must provide adequate sleeping quarters and the employee must usually be able to enjoy an uninterrupted sleep period. If the sleep period is interrupted so the employee may perform work, the work time must be compensated. If the interruptions occur too frequently or last too long so that the employee cannot enjoy a reasonable amount of sleep, the entire sleep period must be paid.
When an employee resides on the employer’s premises, the employer and employee may reach an agreement, based on all pertinent fact, as to which hours wills be compensated and which will not be. MA Regs. 454-27.04(3)
Massachusetts does not typically require employers to count an employee’s commuting time from home to work as hours worked. However, if an employee is required to report to a location other than his or her regular place of work, the employer is required to pay the employee for any extra time it takes the employee to get to the other location beyond what it would have taken to get to his or her regular place of work.
Employers are also required to compensate employees for travel time when they are required to travel from one place to another after their regular work day has begun or before it ends. The employer must reimburse employees for all travel expense when such travel occurs.
Employers must compensate employees for travel time that keeps them away from home overnight consistent with the standards set forth by the federal Fair Labor Standards Act and its regulations regarding travel time (29 CFR 785.39). MA Regs. 454-27.04(4)
Meeting, lecture, and training time
Massachusetts’ minimum wage law does not specifically address when employers must count an employee’s time at meetings, lectures, and training as working time. However, because employers are required to compensate employees for all time they are on duty, it is likely employers must at minimum compensate employees when they require the employees to attend the meetings, lectures, or training. MA Regs. 454-2.01 The standards set forth by the federal Fair Labor Standards Act related to meeting time provide additional guidance.
Show up or reporting time
Massachusetts’ minimum wage law requires employers to pay employees for a minimum of three (3) hours of work at the minimum wage when the employees:
- are scheduled to work a shift that is three (3) hours or longer;
- report to work at their scheduled time; and
- do not end up working at least three (3) hours.
Organization that have been granted charitable status by the Internal Revenue Service are not required to pay reporting pay. MA Regs. 454-27.04(1)