Massachusetts law about overtime

A compilation of laws, regulations, cases, and web sources on overtime pay law by the Trial Court Law Libraries. For information on shift schedules and work hours, see Massachusetts law about hours and conditions of employment, under Related Links below.

Table of Contents

Massachusetts laws

MGL c.151, §§ 1A-1B State overtime law for private employers
Even very small businesses must pay overtime, but many types of employees are exempt. Section 1Aists the categories of exempt workers. Section 1B provides the penalty for employers who do not pay overtime.

MGL c.149, §§ 33B and 33C State overtime law for public employers

MGL c.149, § 30C State law governing overtime for the State Police

Massachusetts regulations

1-1/2 x over 40 hrs

454 CMR 27.03 Minimum wage and overtime rates
"One and one half times an employee's regular hourly rate, such regular hourly rate not to be less than the basic minimum wage, for work in excess of 40 hours in a work week, except as set forth in M.G.L. c. 151, § 1A." Explains how to calculate overtime for piece work and tipped employees as well.

Federal regulations

$35,568 Salary threshold for white collar exemption

29 CFR Part 541 Effective January 1, 2020, Defining and delimiting the exemptions for executive, administrative, professional, outside sales and computer employees. "White collar'' exemptions from overtime law.

Selected case law

Arias-Villano v. Change & Sons, Inc., 481 Mass. 625 (2019)
The overtime exemption for "agriculture and farming" in Massachusetts includes "only the work of planting, raising, and harvesting crops," and so employees who "cleaned, inspected, sorted, weighed, and packaged... bean sprouts" should have been paid overtime for work in excess of 40 hours per week. 

Capron v. Mass. Attorney General, 944 F.3d 9, 2019, US 1st Circuit, No. 17-2140, December 2, 2019
Au pairs in Massachusetts must be paid according to Massachusetts minimum wage and overtime laws. Petition for certiorari filed (Feb. 14, 2020) (No.19-1031): The United States Supreme Court is presently deciding whether or not to review this case.

Casseus v. Eastern Bus Company, Inc., 478 Mass. 786 (2018)
An employer with a common carrier license is exempt from the Mass. overtime statute. Thus, "all common carrier employees, even those who do not operate buses or perform any duties related to the common carrier statute, are exempt from the overtime requirement.  Although an overtime exemption for employees such as janitors and clerical workers may well be a harsh outcome, it is not thereby rendered absurd."

Lambirth v. Advanced Auto, Inc. 140 F.Supp.3d 108 (2015)
An employee who is exempt under Mass. overtime law but nonexempt under Federal law can bring suit for triple damages under the Massachusetts Wage Law.

Mullally v. Waste Management of Massachusetts, 452 Mass. 526 (2008)
Discusses the interplay between overtime and prevailing wage laws. 

Prime Communications, Inc. v. Sylvester, 34 Mass. App. Ct. 708 (1993)
"It was [the employee's] initial burden to establish [the employer's] knowledge, either actual or constructive, of any overtime hours he worked, and we conclude that he failed to meet that burden."

Sullivan v. Sleepy's LLC, 482 Mass. 227 (2019)
Overtime pay for commission employees. Employees paid by commissions and draws are entitled to "separate and additional payments of one and one-half times the minimum wage for every hour the employees worked over forty hours or on Sunday."

Vitali v. Reit Management and Research, LLC, 88 Mass. App. Ct. 99 (2015)
"If an employee has to work during what otherwise would be a [paid] lunch break, the employee gets no extra pay for doing so (since she or he is already being paid for that time). However, such worked lunch time can be counted toward the forty-hour overtime threshold, thus potentially indirectly increasing the employee's overall compensation." The employee in this case was due credit for lunch hours worked, where they were not properly reported due to issues with the reporting system, but where the employer had at least constructive knowledge that the hours were worked.

Web sources

Fact Sheet #20: Employees paid commissions by retail establishments who are exempt under section 7(i) from overtime under the FLSA, US Dept. of Labor
"If a retail or service employer elects to use the Section 7(i) overtime exemption for commissioned employees, three conditions must be met: 1. the employee must be employed by a retail or service establishment, and 2. the employee's regular rate of pay must exceed one and one-half times the applicable minimum wage for every hour worked in a workweek in which overtime hours are worked, and 3. more than half the employee's total earnings in a representative period must consist of commissions. Unless all three conditions are met, the Section 7(i) exemption is not applicable, and overtime premium pay must be paid for all hours worked over 40 in a workweek at time and one-half the regular rate of pay."

Highlights of the final rule on overtime eligibility for white collar employees, U.S. Dept. of Labor.
Discusses overtime rules effective January 1, 2020. In the final rule, the Department is:

  • raising the “standard salary level” from the currently enforced level of $455 per week to $684 per week (equivalent to $35,568 per year for a full-year worker);
  • raising the total annual compensation requirement for “highly compensated employees” from the currently enforced level of $100,000 per year to $107,432 per year;
  • allowing employers to use nondiscretionary bonuses and incentive payments (including commissions) paid at least annually to satisfy up to 10% of the standard salary level, in recognition of evolving pay practices; and
  • revising the special salary levels for workers in U.S. territories and the motion picture industry.

Minimum wage and overtime information, Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development
Provides brief descriptions of overtime laws and exceptions. Most employees must be paid one and one-half times their regular hourly rate for all hours worked in excess of 40 hours in a given work week.

Overtime pay, US Dept. of Labor.
Site includes information on overtime pay as well as links to Fact Sheets on various types of employees, including (but not limited to): professional employees, outside sales staff, highly-compensated workers, blue-collar workers, nurses, technologists, and journalists.

Print sources

Employment law, 3rd ed. (Mass Practice v.45) Thomson Reuters, 2016 with supplement. Section 16:1 Minimum wage/overtime regulation.

Massachusetts employment law, 5th ed., MCLE, loose-leaf, Chapters 18 and 19.

Massachusetts employment law letter, M. Lee Smith Publishers, periodical.

Overtime ins and outs: how to comply with the FLSA, Julie Athey, M. Lee Smith Publishers, 2009 

Wages and hours: law and practice, Matthew Bender, 2015 (with updates), Chapter  5, Overtime requirements of the FLSA.



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Last updated: April 14, 2022