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Minimum wage law poster in English
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May 3, 2011
Please be advised that in its decision in Camara v. Attorney General, SJC 10693, dated Jan. 25, 2011, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court held that, under the Massachusetts Minimum Fair Wage laws, unless otherwise authorized or required by law, an employer may not deduct funds from an employee's wages except where the funds deducted constitute a valid "set off" under c. 149, Section 150, or in the Court's words, "where there exists a clear and established debt owed to the employer by the employee." Accordingly, the Court struck down an employer policy which permitted the employer to deduct funds from its employees' wages for damage to company vehicles. Significantly, the Court did not limit its decision to situations where the deductions would bring the employee's wages under the minimum wage. In light of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court's ruling in Camara v. Attorney General, SJC 10693, dated January 25, 2011, the, Department of Labor Standards hereby rescinds opinion letters MW-2001-019 (12/26/01-deductions from wages for uniform maintenance), MW-2003-003 (2/27/03-Deductions from Wages), and MW-2003-010 (09/10/2003-Administrative Fee for Wage Garnishments) interpreting the Massachusetts minimum fair wage law, M.G.L. 151, and regulations.
Pursuant to the authority at Massachusetts General Law Chapter 23, section 1, and the Code of Massachusetts Regulations, 454 CMR 27.05(4)(b), the Director of the Department of Labor is authorized to waive the prohibition under the minimum wage regulations that "no deposit shall be required by the employer from any employee for a uniform" purchased by the employer. In order to obtain such a waiver from this prohibition, an employer must submit an Application For Uniform Deposit Waiver on an approved form to the Director of the Department of Labor Standards, at 19 Staniford Street, 2nd Floor, Boston, Massachusetts, 02114.
I. The following standards will be applied by the Director in determining whether a request by an employer for a Uniform Deposit Waiver will be granted:
A. A Uniform Deposit Waiver will be granted only to an employer for "Uniforms," as defined by 454 CMR 27.02, which reads:
All special apparel, including footwear, which is worn by an employee as a condition of employment. It shall be presumed that a uniform worn by an employee of any establishment is worn as a condition of employment if the uniform is of similar design, color, or material, or it forms part of the decorative pattern of the establishment to distinguish a person as an employee of the place of work.
B. A Uniform Deposit Waiver will be granted only to an employer who has demonstrated a need for such waiver. In considering an employer's demonstration of need, the Director shall look to such factors as:
C. Under a Uniform Deposit waiver granted by the Director, no demand for a uniform deposit from an employee or prospective employee may be made by the employer unless, at the time of such demand, the employer provides the employee with ALL of the following:
D. Under a Uniform Deposit Waiver granted by the Director, no uniform deposit may exceed the actual cost of the uniform to the employer. In cases of deposit required for the use of used or any other uniforms other than those which have been newly purchased, no employer will be permitted to charge a deposit fee any greater than fifty percent of the initial purchase price to the employer.
E. Under a Uniform Deposit Waiver granted by the Director, all funds collected by the employer as deposits for uniforms shall be kept in a separate account and shall be designated as the "employee funds for uniform deposits," and such uniform deposit funds held by the employer shall not be commingled with other funds.
F. Under a Uniform Deposit Waiver granted by the Director, no deductions from an employer's uniform deposit will be permitted for regular wear and tear due to ordinary use of a returned uniform, nor may any such employer withhold a uniform deposit, or any portion thereof, on the grounds that the employee has damaged the uniform.
G. Under a Uniform Deposit Waiver granted by the Director, all deposits for uniforms must be returned to the employee within three business days of the return of the uniform and no employer may withhold a uniform deposit unless an employee fails to return his/her uniform within three business days of leaving employment.
II. To obtain a Uniform Deposit Waiver, the applicant must provide the following information in writing:
A. A completed Application For Uniform Deposit Waiver, which includes:
B. A copy of the Uniform Deposit and Employee Notice Policy, prepared by the employer, which shall be used by the employer to record all deposits received and to provide each employee with a receipt of his/her deposit. The Policy shall contain, at a minimum, the following information:
Once granted, a waiver may be rescinded for failure to comply with any of the above stated policies of the Director. Noncompliance with the provisions of this Uniform Deposit Waiver Policy shall be deemed a violation of 454 CMR 27.05(4)(b). Complaints regarding noncompliance with any of the provisions of this Uniform Deposit Waiver Policy may be filed with the Office of the Attorney General, Fair Labor Division at 617-727-2200.
William McKinney, Director
Department of Labor Standards