Frequently Asked Questions

Do Employment Agency Program staff inspect Registered Service Agencies as well as Licensed Employment Agencies?

Yes. M.G.L. c. 140, § 46A and 46Q gives DLS broad inspection authority over both licensed and registered agencies.

"The commissioner, or any duly authorized agent or inspector designated by him, shall have authority to inspect the premises, registers, contract forms, receipt books, application forms, referral forms, reference forms, reference reports, financial and other records of fees charged and refunds made of each employment agent, which are essential to the operation of such agency, and of each applicant for an employment agency license…"( M.G.L. c. 140, § 46Q)

The Employment Agency Statute requires that licensed agencies be inspected every six (6) months, and that an inspection of agency premises must be conducted before any new license may be issued. DLS Compliance Officers periodically inspect the records of registered service agencies.

Is my business considered to be an employment agency?

An employment agency is any person or for-profit entity that places workers in jobs, assignments, engagements or employment for a fee. The official definition of an employment agency can be found in Massachusetts General Laws chapter 140, section 46A.

Examples of businesses engaging in this activity can include, but are not limited to, businesses that provide permanent employment placement, temporary staffing, executive recruitment, models, nanny and babysitter placement, home care placement and other domestic employment placement.

I have been told by the Department of Labor Standards (DLS) that I must apply for a license or registration but I do not believe that my business is an employment agency. What can I do?

If you have been informed that you must apply to DLS but do not agree that the employment agency statute is applicable to your business, you may contact DOS and request an applicability questionnaire. Once the questionnaire is completed and returned to DLS, DLS will review the information and determine if the statute is applicable to you.

Can I decide if my business can be a registered firm rather than a licensed employment agency?

No. All businesses covered by this statute are required to be licensed unless they meet one of the limited exceptions to licensure as prescribed in the statute. As you fill out the License and Registration Application, you will answer "yes" or "no" to a series of questions about your business model. Based upon your answers, the application will guide you to the correct classification of licensure or registration. If DLS has reason to believe that any of the questions on the application were answered incorrectly, or, if inconsistencies in answers are detected, an inspection may be conducted to determine whether you are required to have a license or registration.

The exceptions to licensure can be found in Massachusetts General Laws chapter 140, section 46A.

What is the cost of the application fee for a license or registration?

The application fee for each licensed office is $300.

The application fee for each registered main office is $300. Registered firms may register additional branch offices operating under the same name as the main office, for a fee of $180 each.

My business uses more than one name. Must I fill out an application for each name?

Yes. Each name that your business uses must be licensed or registered separately.

My business has more than one location. Must I fill out an application for each location?

If your business is required to be registered, and, provided that your business is using the same name at each of the locations, you may complete one application and provide a list of addresses where the businesses are located. Be sure to include an application fee reflecting the $300 application fee for the main office, and $180 for each additional office location.

If your business is required to be licensed, you must complete a separate application for each location, even if the business name at each location is the same.

I understand that DLS looks very closely at applicant fees and charges. What is considered to be an applicant fee and a charge?

An applicant fee is any money or other valuable consideration paid by an applicant or worker to the employment agency for employment procurement services rendered by the agency. Examples of fees may include, but are not limited to, money paid to an agency from the worker for a placement, and a modeling agency commission. A charge is an amount paid by a worker for other goods and services provided by the employment agency. Examples of charges may include, but are not limited to, monies paid for transportation services, meals, check-cashing, training classes or for photographs or photography sessions. In general, agencies where applicants or workers pay these fees or charges must be licensed rather than registered, with certain limited exceptions.

May I charge an application fee to people who want to work for my agency?

No; this is considered to be a registration fee which is prohibited by the statute.

Information regarding applicant-paid fee restrictions may be found at Massachusetts General Laws chapter 140, section 46L.

Where may I obtain a copy of Massachusetts General Laws chapter 140, sections 46A-R, the Employment Agency Law?

A copy may be downloaded from our webpage at: or you may contact DLS at 617-626-6970 to have a copy faxed or mailed to you.

How long is my license or registration good for?

Each license and registration issued is good for one year.

How do I know when my license or registration is about to expire?

While DLS at this time does send a courtesy reminder one month prior to one's expiration date, it is the responsibility of each business to track its own expiration date. The expiration date of each license and registration issued is printed on the certificate. Renewal applications should be sent 30 days prior to the expiration of your license or registration in order to ensure continuous coverage.

What happens if I do not renew my license or registration on time?

Failure to possess and maintain a valid license or registration is a violation of state law and continued operation may result in civil fines and criminal penalties.

Can I apply for registration or licensure electronically?

Unfortunately, at this time, DLS does not have this capability. Applications can be downloaded from . You may contact DLS at 617-626-6970, if you need a copy of an application to be mailed to you. Applications are to be completed and mailed to DLS with all supporting documents.

What must I do to notify DLS if I move my business?

Mail the following items in a packet to DLS: (1) a letter on letterhead listing the former and new address and the effective date of the new address, (2) your original license or registration certificate, (3) proof of your having filed amended corporate papers with the Secretary of the Commonwealth or an amended Business Certificate with the city or town, (4) an amended bond certificate with the new address (if applicable) and (5) a copy of your workers' compensation policy declaration page reflecting the new address. DLS will issue your business a replacement certificate reflecting the new address.

I lost my license / registration certificate. What should I do?

Mail to DLS a letter on letterhead explaining that you lost the certificate and request the issuance of a duplicate certificate, along with a check for $50 payable to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

If I operate a placement agency that is located outside of Massachusetts, must I become licensed or registered?

If you are placing workers (permanent or temporary) in Massachusetts, or are placing Massachusetts residents in another state, you are recruiting and/or placing in the Commonwealth and are required to obtain a valid license or registration from DLS.

How do I obtain a license to operate a home care agency from DLS?

DLS does not license home care agencies. However, many home care agencies engage in placing domestic employees, which is regulated activity under the Employment Agency Statute requiring an employment agency license or service agency registration.

May I operate an employment agency from my home?

Yes, provided that there is a designated area in the home for business to be conducted and a secure location for files to be stored. Massachusetts General Laws chapter 140, section 46D states that DLS shall not issue a license "if the place in which the business of the employment agency to be conducted is a room used for living purposes or where boarders or lodgers are kept or where meals are served or where persons sleep or in connection with a building or premises where intoxicating liquors are sold to be consumed on the premises, excepting cafes and restaurants in office buildings." DLS will inspect the proposed employment agency location to ensure it meets the statutory requirements. For the safety of all parties involved, it is strongly recommended that agencies do not meet with clients or applicants in their home offices, but rather, at neutral locations such as coffee shops, cafes, public meeting spaces, etc.