Massachusetts law about wages

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 bets

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 hour laws.

Wage and hour laws, Mass. Attorney General.
Massachusetts wage and hour laws say how, when, and how much workers must be paid.  These laws also give workers the right to time off work and the right to know information about their employment.

Massachusetts laws

MGL c.136, § 6 Business, trade, labor or work on Sunday
As of January 1, 2023, "premium pay" for Sundays and holidays has been eliminated under the amended law.

Previously, certain retailers were required to pay certain hourly employees a higher hourly wage rate on Sundays and certain holidays. That requirement expired as a result of a change in state law. However, retail employers are still required to pay hourly employees 1.5 times their normal hourly rate for hours worked in excess of forty per week, including hours on a Sunday or holiday.

MGL c.136, § 13 Legal holidays; application; exceptions
The provision for holiday pay for workers in retail establishments ended 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; enforcement; unlawful practices; good faith self-evaluation of payment practices

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 [voluntarily] 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 [or terminated] 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 as well as court costs and attorneys' fees.

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 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 whether the Attorney General’s office takes enforcement action or not.

Selected cases

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.

'No mercy' ruling leaves employers sweating late paychecks, Bloomberg Law, May 2, 2023.
Discusses the 2022 Wage Act ruling that entitles employees to three times their late wages, regardless of whether the employer pays the employee before the lawsuit, Reuter v. City of Methuen, and how it affects employers in Massachusetts.

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.
The Massachusetts Blue Laws control which businesses may legally operate on Sundays and some legal holidays. Retail employers are still required to pay hourly employees 1.5 times their normal hourly rate for hours worked in excess of forty per week, including hours on a Sunday or holiday.

"Your Right to Discuss Wages," National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).
Under the National Labor Relations Act, employees have the right to communicate with other employees at their workplace about their wages.

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.

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 supplements. 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.

Contact   for Massachusetts law about wages

Last updated: September 27, 2023

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