Massachusetts Wage Act
Massachusetts Wage Act: Protecting Your Rights in the Workplace
Ensuring you receive your hard-earned wages is fundamental to employment. Massachusetts strictly upholds this promise through its wage and hour laws, primarily governed by the Massachusetts Wage Act.
Surprisingly, employers often violate this Act, whether by delayed payments, withheld commissions, illegal deductions, or misclassification of employees. Such violations can expose employers to significant liabilities, even if unintentional.
When an employer breaches the Wage Act, Massachusetts law mandates treble damages for employees, turning a $1,000 mistake into a $3,000 liability. Furthermore, employers may have to cover employees' attorney's fees and legal costs if the employee prevails in a wage claim.
Understanding the Massachusetts Wage Act is crucial for both employers and employees. Below are essential insights into the Act's requirements and penalties, shedding light on why it matters to you.
Penalties for Late Payment of Wages
Massachusetts employers must pay their workers within six days of the payroll period's end, typically on a weekly or bi-weekly basis. Failure to meet this requirement can lead to triple damages, even if the complaint is filed after the delayed payment.
Based on a rececnt court decision, this penalty, at least for a final paycheck on termination, applies even if it is only a day late.
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Payment of Wages, Commissions and Vacation on Termination
Upon termination, employees must receive all outstanding payments, including wages, earned commissions, and accrued but unused vacation time. Failure to do so may result in a Wage Act claim.
Deductions from Wages
With rare exceptions, unauthorized paycheck deductions are unlawful. These exceptions include income taxes, union dues, health premiums, and valid garnishments. Unauthorized deductions may lead to Wage Act violations.
Payment of Commissions Under the Massachusetts Wage Act
Commissions are considered wages and are subject to the Wage Act. Terminated employees must receive commissions earned before termination, even if commissions are paid less frequently than regular wages.
Independent Contractors Under the Massachusetts Wage Act
The Wage Act applies to all employees, and strict criteria determine independent contractor classification. Misclassifying an employee as an independent contractor can lead to Wage Act violations.
The Massachusetts Earned Sick Time Law
Employees in Massachusetts accrue sick time, which is not required to be paid by employers with fewer than 11 employees. Employers with 11 or more employees must provide and pay for sick time, allowing employees to accrue one hour for every 30 hours worked, up to 40 hours.
Enforcing the Wage Act
The Massachusetts Attorney General or an aggrieved employee can enforce the Wage Act. Typically, the Attorney General allows employees to pursue remedies in court, but occasionally the AGO will conduct its own investigation. Employers should be aware that retaliating against an employee for wage-related complaints is illegal.
How Our Wage and Hour Lawyers Can Help
We can help you navigate these issues and get clarity on your rights and obligations as an employer or an employee. You can use the button below to schedule a call back from a member of our team, or give us a call at 781-784-2322.