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.

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Table of Contents


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

MGL c.136, § 5 Conducting business on Sunday

MGL c.136, § 6 Limitations to rules on conducting business on Sunday

MGL c.136, § 13 Legal holidays; application of Secs. 5 to 11; exceptions

MGL c.136, § 16 Retail opening on Sundays and Holidays

MGL c.149, § 45 Work on holidays

MGL c.149, § 48 Day of rest: 1 day of rest in 7

MGL c.149, § 51A Exemptions to Sunday and day of rest requirements

MGL c.149, § 103 Seats for employees

MGL c.149, § 113 Light, ventilation, cleanliness, sanitation and heat

MGL c.149, § 190 Conditions of employment for domestic workers 
Workers must be given a period of 24 consecutive hours off per week.

MGL c.151B, § 4 Unlawful practices
Prohibits discrimination and provides reasonable accommodations for expectant and new mothers in the workplace.

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 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

Breaks and time off, Mass. Attorney General.
“Employers may require workers to take their meal breaks.” Also includes information on employment leave and vacation time.

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 during shifts longer than six hours, but does not require breaks.
From "Massachusetts does not require employers to offer rest breaks other than the 30-minute lunch break…There is no federal law which requires an employer to provide rest breaks…Some bargaining agreements may require breaks during the work day."

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), U.S. 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?, U.S. Dept. 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 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.

MCAD guidance on the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, Mass. Commission Against Discrimination, 2018.
Information on the law effective April 1, 2018. Q&A includes specific guidance on breastfeeding or expressing breast milk during work hours.

Minimum heating guidelines, Mass. Dept. 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 describes the situations in which an employee must be compensated for travel time.

Must Massachusetts employers pay employees for snow days?, Prince Lobel.
How employers handle snow day pay will depend on whether an employee is classified as exempt or non-exempt.

Telework under the Fair Labor Standards Act and Family and Medical Leave Act, U.S. Dept. of Labor, Wage and Hour Division, February 9, 2023.
Guidance on breaks for remote employees, including meal breaks, pumping breaks for nursing mothers, and other short breaks.

Trainees, U.S. 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

Employment law, 3rd ed. (Mass Practice v.45), Thomson Reuters, 2016 with supplement. Chapter 16.

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

Massachusetts wage and hours handbook, 6th ed., MCLE, 2020.


Last updated: March 10, 2023

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