Questions


Does my employer have to give me two 15-minute breaks per day?

MGL c. 149 s.100 requires a 30 minute lunch period, but does not require breaks. The Boston Globe on 12/7/03 explained: "Although many employers do provide time for one or two breaks during the work day in addition to time for lunch, they are not required to do so. The law in Massachusetts states that an employer must provide a thirty-minute meal break during each work shift that lasts more than six hours. This one half-hour meal break is unpaid. In addition, Massachusetts' law does not require employers to provide any rest breaks."

Must I be paid for time that I am "on call"?

The Massachusetts regulation is 454 CMR 27.04(2) pdf format of 454 CMR 27.04(2)
, which says, "All on-call time is compensable working time unless the employee is not required to be at the work site or another location, and is effectively free to use his or her time for his or her own purposes." 

According to the U.S. Dept. of Labor's Fact Sheet No. 22, links to PDF file , "An employee who is required to remain on call on the employer's premises is working while "on call". An employee who is required to remain on call at home, or who is allowed to leave a message where he/she can be reached, is not working (in most cases) while on call. Additional constraints on the employee's freedom could require this time to be compensated." (Derived from the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations, Title 29 sec. 785.17 , On-call time.) 

Nolo.com has a brief article on the topic, Calculating Work Hours , which explains the rules and provides examples.

Must I be paid for time I spend traveling to work?

Sometimes, particularly when you are asked to go to a different location. The Massachusetts regulation is 454 CMR 27.04(4), which says:

(4) Travel Time.

(a) Ordinary travel between home and work is not compensable working time.

(b) If an employee who regularly works at a fixed location is required to report to a location
other than his or her regular work site, the employee shall be compensated for all travel time
in excess of his or her ordinary travel time between home and work and shall be reimbursed
for associated transportation expenses.

(c) If an employer requires an employee to report to a location other than the work site or
to report to a specified location to take transportation, compensable work time begins at the
reporting time and includes subsequent travel to and from the work site.

(d) An employee required or directed to travel from one place to another after the beginning
of or before the close of the work day shall be compensated for all travel time and shall be
reimbursed for all transportation expenses.

(e) Travel that keeps an employee away from home overnight shall be compensated in a
manner consistent with 29 C.F.R. § 785.39.

How old must a child be to babysit in Massachusetts?

We have been unable to find an applicable Massachusetts law. According to the Federal Department of Labor :

"The FLSA sets 14 as the minimum age for most non-agricultural work. However, at any age, youths may deliver newspapers; perform in radio, television, movie, or theatrical productions; work in businesses owned by their parents (except in mining, manufacturing or hazardous jobs); perform babysitting or perform minor chores around a private home. Also, at any age, youth may be employed as homeworkers to gather evergreens and make evergreen wreaths. "

Must employees be given time off work to vote?

Look at MGL c.149 s.178 . This law was originally passed in 1887, and has been modified ten times, the most recent being in 1913. The following is from Labor and Employment in Massachusetts: a guide to employment laws, regulations, and practices, 2nd edition, by Jeffrey L. Hirsch (Lexis, loose-leaf):

"Time Off to Vote

Massachusetts laws requires that employees who apply be granted a leave of absence to vote during the two hours after the polls open in their districts. Payment for voting time is at the discretion of the employer. Most employees have time to vote before or after work. One or two hours in most cases is the maximum time needed to vote. Employees should explain their reasons for needing more time and may also be requested to prove that they have voted by providing the name of the precinct where they cast their ballot."

Must employees be paid time and a half for Sunday work?

See MGL c.136, s. 6 . According to Your Rights on the Job by Robert M. Schwartz, 4th ed. (Labor Guild of Boston, 2000):

"With the exception of retail stores (see below), employers do not have to pay overtime for Sunday work unless weekly hours exceed 40 or if overtime compensation on Sundays is required by union contract.

Retail stores. Amendments in 1994 allow retail stores to open at any time on Sundays. The following rules apply:

    • Retail stores may not require employees to work on Sundays and may not take adverse actions against employees who decline work.
    • Non-managerial employees who work on Sundays must be paid time and one half wages, regardless of how many hours are worked during the week (this obligation does not apply to stores which employ seven or fewer persons, including the proprietor, on each day during the week).
    • Employees may not work seven consecutive days.

Complaints regarding Sunday work should be made to the Attorney General's Fair Labor and Business Practices Division. Violations are punishable by a fine of up to $1000."

Can tipped employees be paid less than minimum wage?

Yes and no. A different minimum wage is set for tipped employees. See 454 CMR 27.03(2) pdf format of 454 CMR 27.03(2)
for detailed information. The minimum wage for tipped employees (that is, employees who receive more than $20 a month in tips) is $3.25 an hour as of January 1, 2016 (MGL c. 151 s. 7 .). However, for employers to pay these employees this different minimum wage they must inform the employee of this law and the employee must receive at least the minimum wage as determined by MGL c.151 s. 1 when actual tips and wages are combined. In addition, all tips must be retained by the employee or distributed through a valid tip-pool as defined by MGL c.149 s.152A . If the combined wages and actual tips do not at least equal the regular minimum wage, the employer must pay the employee the difference. MGL c. 151 s. 7 .

What is the minimum number of hours for which an employee must be paid on a given work day?

454 CMR 27.04(1) pdf format of 454 CMR 27.04(1)
reads as follows : When an employee who is scheduled to work three or more hours reports for duty at the time set by the employer, and that employee is not provided with the expected hours of work, the employee shall be paid for at least three hours on such day at no less than the basic minimum wage. 454 CMR 27.04 shall not apply to organizations granted status as
charitable organizations under the Internal Revenue Code.

I'm an employer. What posters do I need and how do I get them?

The Department of Labor has a Posters Page that provides links to the posters required by Federal Law.

For state posters, see Poster Requirements at Mass.gov. The Wage and Hour Poster (which includes minimum wage info) is available from the Mass. Attorney General.


Last update: January 4, 2016

Questions, comments or corrections on this website? Contact the law libraries' webperson. Questions about legal information? Contact our Reference Librarians.

See all topics