Massachusetts law about employment

Print sources and general information on employment law.

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Full-time vs. part-time

Massachusetts does not have a legal definition for full-time or part-time employees. Please see your employee handbook for your employer’s definition of full-time vs. part-time status.

Black’s Law Dictionary definitions:

  • Employee. Someone who works in the service of another person (the employer) under an express or implied contract of hire, under which the employer has the right to control the details of work performance.
  • Full-Time Employee. One who is hired to work at least the normal number of hours in a workweek as defined by an employer or a statute, usu. 35 to 40 hours.
  • Part-Time Employee. One who is hired to work fewer hours (usu. substantially fewer) than the normal number in a workweek as defined by an employer or a statute.
  • Probationary Employee. A recently hired employee whose ability and performance are being evaluated during a trial period of employment.
  • Seasonal Employee. An employee who is engaged to work for only a certain time of the year when a business anticipates a cyclical increase in demand.

Selected cases

Jackson v. Action for Boston Community Development, Inc., 403 Mass. 8 (1998)
An employer is not required by law to issue an employee handbook or procedural manual to its employees. If they do provide an employee handbook, it creates procedural and substantive rights for the employee. However, the employee handbook does not necessarily create a contract between employee and employer.

Web sources

Massachusetts workplace poster requirements, Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development.
A list of required notices that employers in Massachusetts are required to post.

Print sources


Drafting employment documents in Massachusetts, 4th ed., MCLE, loose-leaf.

“There is no legal distinction between part-time employees and full-time employees. Customarily, terms and conditions of part-time and full-time employees are similar, although benefits that are based on scheduled or worked hours are usually prorated. Employers are free (absent collective bargaining constraints) to establish entirely different terms and conditions for part-time employees.”

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Last updated: June 6, 2024

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