Massachusetts – Minimum Wage Laws



Minimum wage

Massachusetts’ current minimum wage is $13.50.

Over the next several years, the minimum wage will increase as follows:

  • January 1, 2022: $14.25
  • January 1, 2023: $15.00

MA House Bill 4640, MA Statute 151-1; MA Dept. of Labor and Workforce Dev. – Minimum Wage Program

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 Statute 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 $5.55.

Over the next several years, the tipped minimum wage will increase as follows:

  • January 1, 2022: $6.15
  • January 1, 2023: $6.75

MA House Bill 4640, MA Statute 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 Statute 149-152A; MA Statute 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 Statute 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 Statute 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 Statute 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 Statute 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 Statute 149-152A

A service bartender is an employee who prepares beverages for customers that are served by other employees. MA Statute 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 Statute 149-152A; MA Statute 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 Statute 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 Statute 149-152A(c); MA Statute 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 Statute 151-9; MA Regs. 454-27.06(2), (3).



Trainees

Massachusetts minimum wage laws allow hospitals or laboratories to obtain a special license to pay 80% 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 less than the standard minimum wage if they receive a certificate from the Department of Labor and Workforce Development allowing them to do so. MA Statute 151-9.



Learners

Massachusetts minimum wage laws allow employers to pay learners less than the standard minimum wage if they receive a certificate from the Department of Labor and Workforce Development allowing them to do so. MA Statute 151-9.



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% 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 employees working as camp counselors or counselor trainees a subminimum wage rate less than 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. Employers may not pay subminimum wage rates to employees who are not directly supervision campers including dish washers, kitchen workers, maintenance workers, life guards or other similar jobs. MA Regs. 454-27.06(2).


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