Massachusetts law about wages

A compilation of laws, regulations, cases, and web sources on payment of wages in general.

For more specific topics, see Minimum wage, Overtime, or Prevailing wage.

If you are unable to find the information you are looking for, or if you have a specific question, please contact our law librarians for assistance.

Table of Contents

Best bet

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 laws

MGL c.136, § 6 Business, trade, labor or work on Sunday
Eliminates "premium pay" for Sundays and holidays on January 1, 2023. From January 1, 2022 to December 31, 2022, the pay rate for Sundays and holidays is 1.1 times regular pay. 

MGL c.136, § 13 Legal holidays; application; exceptions
Retail establishments that operate on January 1, Veterans Day, or on Columbus Day/Indigenous People's Day must pay employees time and one-half (or more, if part of the contractual agreement) for their work on that day. The provision for holiday pay for workers in retail establishments will end on January 1, 2023. See: St.2020, c.358, §§ 74, 75 and 111.

MGL c.149, § 105A Discrimination on basis of gender in payment of wages prohibited

MGL c.149, § 148 Payment of wages, commissions: exemption by contract, persons deemed employers, provision for cashing check or draft, violation of statute
Includes the following about employees who leave their employment:

"any employee leaving his employment shall be paid in full on the following regular pay day, and, in the absence of a regular pay day, on the following Saturday; and any employee discharged from such employment shall be paid in full on the day of his discharge..."

MGL c.149, § 150 Provides for mandatory triple damages for weekly wage law violations

MGL c.149, § 152A Service charges and tips
Significantly broadens the definition of “wait staff employee”, who can receive tips and what constitutes a “tip pool”. The new definition allows individuals with managerial responsibilities to receive tips or share in a tip pool effective January 14, 2021, as long as they do not have any managerial responsibilities that day.

Complaints and enforcement

File a wage complaint, Mass. Attorney General.
If you think an employer did not follow workplace laws, you can file a complaint online.

Free wage theft legal clinic, Mass. Attorney General’s Fair Labor Division.
Meet with lawyers and other advocates in free clinics around the state to learn about your rights, draft a demand letter, or prepare a small claims court complaint.

Workers' right to sue, Mass. Attorney General
You have the right to file a lawsuit in a Massachusetts Court, as an alternative to filing a complaint with the Attorney General’s Fair Labor Division.

Selected cases

Blake v. CRNC Operating, LLC, 2015 Mass. App. Div. 156 (2015)
A non-payment of wages claim may be brought in Small Claims Court when the amount claimed is up to $7000, even though the amount, when trebled, would exceed the $7000 limit.

Camara v. Attorney General, 458 Mass. 756 (2011)
An employer may not serve as the sole decision maker when assessing liability and damages if an employee is found to be at fault in an accident involving the employer’s vehicles, and then go on to deduct expenses from his or her wages in lieu of discipline. "Massachusetts law holds employee wages sacrosanct, and right or wrong, employers must think twice before getting creative with wage deduction policies." (Nicholas F. Ortiz, "What is a 'valid set-off' under the Massachusetts Wage Act?")

Hovagimian v. Concert Blue Hill, LLC, 488 Mass. 237 (2021)
Waitstaff are entitled to the proceeds of payments collected by a country club from banquet patrons that were designated as "service charges" pursuant to the Massachusetts Tips Act, MGL c. 149, § 152A.

Meshna v. Scrivanos, 471 Mass. 169 (2015)
No-Tipping Policy. "An employer would not be liable under MGL c.149, § 152A if it clearly communicates a no-tipping policy to customers, who nonetheless leave tips that are retained by the employer."

Norrell v. Spring Valley Country Club, Inc., 98 Mass. App. Ct. 57 (2020)
Detailed discussion of the application of the Tips Act, MGL c.149, § 152A, to service charges, specifically when an employer does not label a supplemental charge a service charge, tip or gratuity, but a reasonable patron would have understood it as such.

Reuter v. City of Methuen, 489 Mass. 465 (2022)
The Wage Act statute entitles employees to three times their late wages, regardless of whether the employer pays the employee before a lawsuit.

Weems v. Citigroup Inc. & others, 453 Mass. 147 (2009)
"The Act (MGL c. 149, § 148) expressly states that holiday and vacation pay due under an agreement, as well as commissions that are definitely determined and due and payable to the employee are wages within the meaning of the act."

Web sources

New treble damages requirement makes compliance with wage/hour laws even more critical, Employment Law Advisor, July 2008.
The state law differs from federal law, and this article "reviews several... pay practices and provides practical advice on how to avoid wage hour problems." Helpful information, even if some of the laws have changed since 2008.

Pay and recordkeeping, Mass. Attorney General.
Workers have the right to be paid for all the time that they work and to be paid on time. They must get paystubs and be able to see their employer's record of their hours and pay. Information on tips, payment of wages, records, and working on Sundays and holidays.

"Wages", U.S. Department of Labor.
A compendium of federal labor law about wages.

Working on Sundays and Holidays ("Blue Laws"), Mass. Attorney General.
An overview of premium pay, which will be eliminated on Jan. 1 2023.

"Your Right to Discuss Wages," National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).

Print sources

Employment law (Mass. practice v.45), 3rd ed. (Mass. practice v.45)  West, 2016, with supplements. Chapter 16: Wages, hours of work and leaves of absences, Chapter 17: Plant closings, severance pay requirements.

Labor and employment in Massachusetts, 2nd ed., Jeffrey L. Hirsch, LEXIS, 1998, with supplements, loose-leaf. Chapter 2: Hours of work and wages. 
A comprehensive overview of Massachusetts employment law.

Massachusetts employment law, 5th ed., MCLE, 2020, with updates. Chapter 14, "Massachusetts Payment of Wages Law -- G.L. c.149 §§ 148-150."

Massachusetts wage and hours handbook, 7th ed., MCLE, 2022.

Wages and hours, law & practice, Matthew Bender, 1990, with supplements, loose-leaf.

"Your Rights on the Job," Robert M. Schwartz, 5th ed., The Labor Guild of Boston, 2008.
A bit dated, but full of helpful information in an easy to understand format.


Last updated: March 10, 2023

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