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Are You Being Paid Pursuant to Massachusetts Law?


Employment is effectively a contract between the employer and the employee. In response for time provided by the employee, the employer agrees to pay a predetermined wage to the employee. This contract is governed by both state and federal laws, which sets such terms as a minimum wage, overtime pay, and the like. A failure by the employer to adhere to these laws and regulations can result in penalties to the employer, and lost pay to the employee, an aspect which the services of an experienced civil litigation attorney can help to recover. Recently, individuals protested at the headquarters of McDonald’s Corporation in Chicago over allegations that they are not paying their employees a “living wage.” A discussion of some of the provisions of the wage laws in Massachusetts will follow below.

Common Wage Law Provisions in Massachusetts

Massachusetts wage provisions regulate various aspects of employment, including minimum wage, tips, overtime, child labor, timely payment, and meal breaks. These issues comprise the center of any employer/employee relationship, and a basic understanding of these rules is crucial to recognizing when violations are happening. As a general introduction, a brief synopsis of each key area, and the basic rules employers must follow, will appear below.

Minimum Wage

Currently, the minimum wage in Massachusetts is set at $11 per hour, and is applicable to most employees, with the noted exception of employees who receive tips greater than $20 per day. These employees have a minimum wage of $3.75. However, even for these tipped employees, if the combination of their minimum wage and tips does not exceed the $11 hourly amount, the employer is required to augment the wage to that amount.


Pursuant to Massachusetts law, pooling of tips is specifically barred, and that the total proceeds of a tip can only go to certain employees (wait staff, service employees, and bartenders) in the proportion to their services. Further, under no circumstances are employers, owners and managers permitted to retain any portion of tip income.


Most wage earners who work above 40 hours a week must receive a pay rate of 1.5 times their normal pay for those hours above 40. It should be noted that this requirement does not apply to exempt employees – generally referred to those who are salaried – as well as seasonal employees, golf caddies, and other listed employees.

Age Requirements

No one may be employed in Massachusetts under the age of 14. For those 14 and 15 years old, they cannot work during school hours, second shift (except during the summer), and for more than 3 hours daily or 18 hours weekly during the school year. Similar, although more extended, limitations apply if an employee is 16 or 17. For all minor employees, employers must obtain a specific permit to hire anyone under the age of 18, and are not permitted to employ such individuals in certain positions, such as jobs that require possession or use of a firearm.

Timely Payment of Wages

Payments must be made within six days of the end of each pay period if a worker is employed 5-6 days per week, and within seven days if the worker is employed a full week or less than five days per week. Further, hourly workers must be paid weekly or bi-weekly

Meal Breaks

Finally, employees who work more than six hours in one shift must be given a 30-minute meal break, in which the worker may not have any duty. Further, if the employee waives, or remains on site during, the meal break, the employee must be paid by the employer for this time.

Seek Legal Advice

If you believe that your pay is not in accordance with Massachusetts or federal law, speak to an experienced civil litigation attorney as soon as possible. The attorneys at Leontire & Associates, P.C. have experience in challenging employers regarding their practices, and will work to obtain the proper compensation you deserve. Contact our Boston office today.



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