Guide Massachusetts law about hours and conditions of employment

A compilation of laws, regulations, cases, and web sources on hours and conditions of employment law.

Massachusetts laws

  • St.2017, c.54.Massachusetts Pregnant Workers Fairness Act.  
    "The legislation will prohibit workplace and hiring discrimination related to pregnancy and nursing, and require employers to provide reasonable accommodations for expectant and new mothers in the workplace. This includes access to less strenuous workloads, altered work schedules, time off with or without pay and private nursing space."
  • MGL c.136, s.5 Conducting business on Sunday
  • MGL c.136, s.6 Limitations to rules on conducting business on Sunday
  • MGL c.136, s.16 Retail opening on Sundays and Holidays
  • MGL c.149, s.51A, Exemptions to Sunday and Day of Rest Requirements
  • MGL c.149, s. 45 Work on Holidays
  • MGL c.149, s. 48 Day of Rest
  • MGL c.149, s.103 Seats for Employees
  • MGL c.149, s.113 Light, Ventilation, Cleanliness, Sanitation and Heat

Web sources

Break Time for Nursing Mothers, US Dept. of Labor
Discusses requirements of 29 USC 207(r), which provides for " reasonable break time for an employee to express breast milk for her nursing child for 1 year after the child’s birth."

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."

Massachusetts Blue Laws, Dept. of Labor and Workforce Development
Explains rules regarding Sunday and holiday business operations

Massachusetts Wage and Hour Laws: What Every Employer Needs to Know, Foley Hoag
A 20-page guide "intended to provide Massachusetts employers with information about the basic requirements of federal and state wage and hour laws, as well as employer responsibilities regarding the proper classification of workers"

MCAD Guidance on the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, Mass. Commission Against Discrimination, 2018.
Includes specific guidelines and questions and answers on the law effective April 1, 2018. 

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.

What is a State of Emergency?, Executive Office of Public Safety
"There is a misconception that various restrictions or bans automatically are triggered when there is a Gubernatorial State of Emergency in place. This is not so. The declaration of a State of Emergency does not in itself affect the operation of private enterprise. Travel is not automatically banned; businesses are not automatically closed. Many businesses do have contractual agreements with their employees regarding who does/does not have to report to work when a Gubernatorial State of Emergency is issued."

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

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.

Working on Sundays and Holidays, Mass. Attorney General
"The Massachusetts Blue laws control hours of operation for certain businesses and require premium pay for some businesses on Sundays and some legal holidays."

An Advisory from the Attorney General's Fair Labor and Business Practices Division on Meal Periods (Advisory 94/2), Mass. Attorney General, 1994 (see additional resources below)
Discusses the meal break law and the ability of the employee to waive it

Minimum Heating Guidelines, Mass. Department of Labor Standards. (see additional resources below)
Outlines the minimum temperatures required in various types of workplaces. Specific temperature requirements for various types of workplaces.

Additional Resources

Labor and Employment in Massachusetts, LexisNexis, loose-leaf. Chapters 2 and 3.

Last update: February 15, 2018


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