Massachusetts Minimum Wage FAQs
Massachusetts state wage and hour laws include minimum hourly rates of pay. These rates have been changing over the last five years, and apply differently to some different kinds of employees. Below are answers to some frequently asked questions about federal and state minimum wage laws.
1. Which Minimum Wage Applies - Federal or Massachusetts?
The federal Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA") sets the federal minimum wage, but Massachusetts has its own minimum hourly rates, which are higher. If the state minimum wage is greater, employers are required to pay that rate within the state.
2. Are There Different Minimum Wage Rates for Different Employee Types?
Yes, there are varying rates for tipped employees and certain agricultural workers. Tipped employees must receive enough tips and wages combined to meet or exceed the minimum hourly rate. For example, the current tipped minimum wage is $6.75 per hour.
3. Do minimum wage laws apply to salaried employees?
Minimum wage laws apply to all employees, including salaried workers. To determine if your earnings meet the minimum wage requirement, divide your weekly salary by the number of hours worked each week. If the result is less than $15.00 per hour, additional wages may be owed.
4. Does "on call" time count for minimum wage?
Generally, time spent "on call" or available for work on demand is considered paid time under federal and state law. However, if you are not required to be on the work site and can use the time for personal purposes when not called for work, it may not be compensable.
5. Is there an exception for small business from minimum wage laws?
Massachusetts minimum wage laws apply to businesses of all sizes. While there may be federal exemptions based on revenue thresholds, the state's minimum wage requirements are universal.
6. How is Minimum Wage Calculated for Commission-Only Employees?
Commission-only employees must earn at least the state minimum wage. Calculate your total earnings in a workweek, then divide by the number of hours worked. If the resulting hourly amount is less than $15.00, a violation may exist, even if your total earnings over a longer period meet or exceed minimum wage.
7. Does Minimum Wage Law Apply to Travel Time?
Both the minimum wage and overtime laws apply to travel time between job sites within a workday. However, these laws generally do not cover time spent commuting to and from work or between the first and last job locations of the day.
8. Can Employers Mandate Tip Sharing Among Waitstaff?
The law on tipped minimum wage sets specific limits on tip pooling, or requiring tipped employees to share gratuities with other workers. Generally, tips can only be shared with other waitstaff and service bartenders. It is not permissible to require sharing tips with kitchen staff, managers, or the restaurant owner.
9. What Should I Do If I Suspect I'm Paid Below Minimum Wage?
If you have a concern about minimum wage, you should consult an employment lawyer. You might also consider filing a complaint with the Massachusetts Attorney General's Office. The Attorney General has the authority under the labor laws to investigate minimum wage violations. They can also issue you a private right to sue letter, which you will need before bringing any civil action to recover wages.
10. Can I Face Retaliation for Wage Complaints?
Under Massachusetts and federal employment law, raising concerns about wage and hour violations is protected activity. Employers are prohibited from retaliating against employees who assert their rights under wage and hour laws, provided the claims involve alleged violations of law. This protection differs from merely requesting higher pay.
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