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Massachusetts law about hours and conditions of employment

A compilation of laws, regulations, and web sources on hours and conditions of employment law. This is one of many pages on various aspects of employment law. Be sure to see "Related" for other important topics.

Table of Contents


COVID-19 workplace safety measures for reopening, Mass. Dept of Labor Standards
Provides general and industry-specific standards and guidelines for reopening.

Coronavirus resources, U.S. Dept. of Labor
A collection of links to pages on workplace safety, wage and hour issues, and news related to labor and COVID-19.

Massachusetts laws

Massachusetts regulations

3 hrs At minimum wage

454 CMR 27.04 (1) Reporting pay or "show up" pay. 
If you were scheduled to work for 3 hours or more and get sent home, your employer must pay you for at least 3 hours at at least minimum wage. This does not apply to charitable organizations.

454 CMR 27.04 (2) On-call time
Explains when employers are and are not required to pay for on-call time.

454 CMR 27.04 (3) Sleeping time and working shifts
Explains requirements for sleeping time for employees required to work shifts of more than 24 hours.

454 CMR 27.04 (4) Travel time
Explains when employers are and are not required to pay for travel time.

Federal laws

29 USC §§ 201-219 Fair labor standards act

Web sources

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

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."

Can my employer send me home early?

Yes, but you may be entitled to pay. 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.

30-minute break must be provided for every shift more than 6 hours

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

MGL c. 149 § 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."

Employers' guide to Massachusetts wage & hour law, Seyfarth Shaw, LLP, February 2019.
Provides a nice overview of many aspects of Massachusetts wage and hour law, with links to laws.

Hours worked under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), US Dept. of Labor Fact Sheet #22.
Provides information on requirements for time spent waiting, on-call, travelling, sleeping, eating meals, or engaged in other activities. 

How many hours per day or per week can an employee work?, US Department of Labor, Wage and Hour Division.

The FLSA does not limit the number of hours per day or per week that employees aged 16 years and older can be required to work.

Massachusetts blue laws, Dept. of Labor Standards
Explains rules regarding Sunday and holiday business operations

Massachusetts wage & hour laws poster, Mass. Attorney General.
State law requires all employers to post this notice at the workplace in a location where it can easily be read. Provides a quick and easy summary of Massachusetts wage and hours laws.

Massachusetts wage and hour laws: what every employer needs to know, Foley Hoag (2007)
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. 

Minimum heating guidelines, Mass. Department of Labor Standards. 
Outlines the minimum temperatures required in various types of workplaces. Specific temperature requirements for various types of workplaces.

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.

State of emergency information, Executive Office of Public Safety
"A state of emergency does not automatically mean that a travel ban is in place. ... A state of emergency does not automatically mean that schools, businesses, and government offices are closed." 

Trainees, Dept. of Labor, 2018. 
Explains the criteria for when an employer does and does not have to pay a trainee

When does a job interview become compensable?, Kate McGovern Tornone, May 3, 2017
Explains the circumstances in which an employer may have to pay someone for time spent interviewing for a job.

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."

Print sources

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

Massachusetts wage and hours handbook, MCLE, 2020



Within Massachusetts only

Within Massachusetts only


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Last updated: February 5, 2021