Massachusetts law about hours and conditions of employment

Laws, regulations, and web sources on hours and conditions of employment law.

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Table of Contents

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

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

Federal regulations

29 CFR 785 Hours worked

  • 29 CFR 785.27-32 Lectures, meetings, and training programs
    Explains when lectures, meetings and training programs must count as working time.
  • 29 CFR 785.48 Use of time clocks
    Includes information on “rounding” time up or down when arriving or departing work.

Full-time vs. part-time employment

From Drafting employment documents in Massachusetts, 4th ed., editor, Michael L. Rosen (MCLE, loose-leaf):

Although by definition part-time employees typically work significantly fewer hours than regular full-time employees, there is no bright-line definition. Typically, full-time workers work at least thirty hours per week. 

See also Massachusetts law about employment.

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.

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

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.

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."

Does my employer have to pay me for days the office is closed?

From FindLaw

For non-exempt employees, “[e]mployers don't have to pay you if they shut down the business temporarily because you didn't work those hours.”

For exempt employees, “[i]f you worked part of a week, but the company shuts down for the rest of the week, the FLSA requires employers to pay your full salary for the week.”

However, “[t]he FLSA does not require employers to provide vacation pay. So, if you have vacation pay or paid time off, an employer may require you to take the vacation time to cover days when you can't come into work because the office is closed.

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.

New federal protections for pregnant and nursing employees in 2023: What employers need to know, JDSupra, 2023.

Snow day: Snow pay?, Beacon Law Group.
Whether or not employers must pay an employee for a snow day may depend on a number of factors, including the employee’s status 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.

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, 7th ed., MCLE, 2022.

Contact for Massachusetts law about hours and conditions of employment

Last updated: July 14, 2023

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