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Minimum wage and overtime information

Learn more about Massachusetts' fair wage law and regulations.

Most Massachusetts employers are subject to minimum wage and overtime laws.

Massachusetts minimum wage

Effective Jan. 1, 2021, the Massachusetts minimum wage is $13.50 per hour. The service rate is $5.55 per hour.

A 2018 law made changes to the minimum wage, and Sunday and holiday premium pay

Chapter 121 of the Acts of 2018, known as the “Grand Bargain” made changes to the minimum wage, Sunday premium pay and holiday pay requirements. See the link below for the statutory changes.

https://malegislature.gov/Laws/SessionLaws/Acts/2018/Chapter121

Chapter 358 of the Acts of 2020, entitled An Act Enabling Partnerships for Growth, made further changes to certain holiday work practices. See the link below for these statutory changes.

https://malegislature.gov/Laws/SessionLaws/Acts/2020/Chapter358 (Sections 74 and 75)

Section 74. The second paragraph of section 13 of chapter 136 of the General Laws, as so appearing, is hereby amended by striking out the first sentence and inserting in place thereof the following sentence: Any retail establishment that operates on January first, November eleventh or the second Monday in October, under the exemption granted by this section, shall compensate employees working on any of said days at a rate specified under clause (50) of section 6 or such larger sum as may be determined by contract; provided, however, that such work shall be voluntary and refusal to work for any retail establishment on such legal holidays shall not be grounds for discrimination, dismissal, discharge, reduction in hours or any other penalty.

Section 75. Said second paragraph of said section 13 of said Chapter 136, as so appearing, is hereby further amended by striking out the first sentence and inserting in place thereof the following sentence: Any retail establishment that operates on January first, November eleventh or the second Monday in October, under the exemption granted by this section, shall not require any employee to perform such work and an employee's refusal to work for any retail establishment on such legal holidays shall not be grounds for discrimination, dismissal, discharge, reduction in hours or any other penalty.

  • Summary of law:
    • Requires holiday pay for retail establishments on New Years Day, Veterans Day, and Columbus Day, in accordance with the premium pay schedule outlined in the Grand Bargain. For New Years Day, Veterans Day, and Columbus Day, provides that a retail establishment shall not require any employee to perform such work and an employee's refusal to work for any retail establishment on such legal holidays shall not be grounds for discrimination, dismissal, discharge, reduction in hours or any other penalty.

Minimum wage for tipped employees

The service rate for tipped employees who make more than $20 a month will increase from $4.95 to $5.55 per hour as of January 1, 2021. To pay tipped employees this rate, the employer must notify the employee in writing of MGL c151 §7(3). Tipped restaurant employees must make at least minimum wage for all hours worked when they combine tips and wages for hours worked each day. Employers must pay service employees all their tips, or they may use a tip-pooling arrangement that distributes tips in equal proportions to their time pursuant to MGL c149 s 152A. Restaurant employees are exempt from overtime under the state law, but not under federal law. For federal law guidance on restaurant worker overtime, please call the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division in Boston at (617) 624-6700.

The U.S. Department of Labor has information on the federal overtime requirements for restaurant workers.

Chapter 358 of the Acts of 2020, entitled An Act Enabling Partnerships for Growth, amends the definition of "wait staff employee" that was formerly defined in M.G.L. chapter 149, § 152A.

https://malegislature.gov/Laws/SessionLaws/Acts/2020/Chapter358 (section 77)

  • Summary:
    • Amends the definition of "wait staff employee" to include a waiter, waitress, bus person, person in a quick service restaurant who prepares or serves food or beverages as part of a team of counter staff or any other counter employee who: (i) serves beverages or prepared food directly to patrons or who clears patrons' tables; (ii) works in a restaurant, banquet facility or other place where prepared food or beverages are served; and (iii) has no managerial responsibility during a day in which the person serves beverages or prepared food or clears patrons' tables. This changes the definition of  “waitstaff employee” in MGL c. 149, sec. 152A
    • The notable expansion is the change in prong three relative to managerial responsibility. Current law, provides "who has no managerial responsibility". Explicit reference to quick service restaurant is also an expansion.

Agricultural or farm workers minimum wage

  • The agricultural wage is $8 an hour.
  • The only exception to this rule is the payment of children 17 years of age or under or to a parent, spouse, children, or other member of the employer's immediate family.

Extra pay for weekend, holiday, or night work

Under the minimum fair wage law, an employer does not have to pay extra for weekend, holiday, or night work. In some case, the Massachusetts Blue Laws chapter 136, require some retailers to pay premium pay for Sundays and certain holidays. For more information, refer to the Massachusetts Blue Laws.

Please see important changes to the Blue Laws under Chapter 358 of the Acts of 2020, entitled An Act Enabling Partnerships for Growth, made further changes to certain holiday work practices. See link below for the statutory changes.

https://malegislature.gov/Laws/SessionLaws/Acts/2020/Chapter358

Section 74. The second paragraph of section 13 of chapter 136 of the General Laws, as so appearing, is hereby amended by striking out the first sentence and inserting in place thereof the following sentence:- Any retail establishment that operates on January first, November eleventh or the second Monday in October, under the exemption granted by this section, shall compensate employees working on any of said days at a rate specified under clause (50) of section 6 or such larger sum as may be determined by contract; provided, however, that such work shall be voluntary and refusal to work for any retail establishment on such legal holidays shall not be grounds for discrimination, dismissal, discharge, reduction in hours or any other penalty.

Section 75. Said second paragraph of said section 13 of said chapter 136, as so appearing, is hereby further amended by striking out the first sentence and inserting in place thereof the following sentence:- Any retail establishment that operates on January first, November eleventh or the second Monday in October, under the exemption granted by this section, shall not require any employee to perform such work and an employee's refusal to work for any retail establishment on such legal holidays shall not be grounds for discrimination, dismissal, discharge, reduction in hours or any other penalty.

Vacation and severance pay

The Minimum Fair Wage Law does not require employers to compensate for vacation time when an employee is not at work, or offer severance pay upon termination. However, if an employer offers a vacation plan, vacation pay may be considered wages due an employee. For the Office of the Attorney General go to www.mass.gov/ago.

Sick pay

Effective July 1, 2015, the Attorney General’s Office will enforce an earned sick time for employees law requiring sick leave under certain conditions. Guidance regarding the requirements of this earned sick time law can be found in this notice.

On-call employees

An on-call employee who is not required to be at the work site, and who is effectively free to use his or her time for his or her own purposes, is not working while on call and need not be paid. Of course, if the employee is paged and must perform work, the employee must be paid for all hours worked.

Full-time employment

The Massachusetts Minimum Fair Wage Law does not distinguish between full-time or part-time employment, and both types of employees are covered by the law. As a general matter, work schedules are a matter of agreement between an employer and employee (or the employee's representative), with the exception of certain child labor provisions. For information regarding Massachusetts child labor laws, go to www.mass.gov/ago.

Filing a wage complaint

Complaints must be filed with the Office of the Attorney General's Fair Labor Division. For a wage complaint form, addresses and phone numbers, please visit the Attorney General's web page.

Minimum wage regulations

Additional Resources for

Download wage and hour posters for workplaces

  • Minimum fair wage posters can be downloaded at any time and are available in English and 13 additional languages, visit AGO workplace publications.
  • Posters are available in multiple languages.
  • To request copies of the 2020 required minimum wage and hour laws poster, complete the wage and hour posters request form.

Overtime compensation

  • 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.
  • State law does not call for overtime after 8 hours in a day.
  • Some employees are exempt from overtime, such as executives, professionals, and some seasonal workers.
  • Even if an employee is exempt from overtime under state law, it is important to check if federal law would still require overtime compensation.
  • An employer and employee cannot make any agreement to violate the overtime law.

Compensatory time

If an employee is a non-exempt worker, meaning an employee who is due overtime, the employer may not award compensatory time in place of paying overtime compensation.

Exemptions for salaried employees

  • Just because an employee is paid on a salaried basis does not mean that the worker is not entitled to overtime compensation.
  • The nature of the job and/or the type of employer dictates whether or not an worker is eligible for overtime.
  • For a list of workers exempt from overtime, visit M.G.L. c. 151, §1A.

Holiday hours and overtime pay

  • Overtime is based on hours actually worked during a given work week.
  • Holiday pay for a day when a worker does not work is not included in the 40 hours for purposes of overtime calculation.
    • If a worker works 40 hours, and then gets an additional 8 hours of holiday pay, for a total of 48 hours of pay due for the work week, the employer does not have to pay overtime compensation.
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