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Massachusetts Labor Laws: An Overview

As minimum wage debates ripple across the country, American workers have begun to reevaluate their employment rights. Employers are responsible for adhering to federal and state labor laws that govern minimum wage, overtime pay, holiday pay, family medical leave, discrimination, and harassment. Employees often forego a deeper understanding of these legal guidelines because they trust their employers to follow industry standards and regulations. However, awareness of these laws and what constitutes a violation can empower workers to ensure that their rights are protected. The following is an overview of labor laws specific to Massachusetts.

Massachusetts Minimum Fair Wage Law

This law regulates minimum wage, minimum hours worked on a daily basis, and standards for overtime work. Massachusetts’ minimum wage became $8.00 per hour on January 1, 2008. Certain positions, such as tipped employees, present special circumstances that require a different minimum wage. Additionally, if an employer fails to pay an employee at least one and one-half times the regular pay rate for overtime (which is over 40 hours per week), that employer is in violation of the Minimum Fair Wage Law.

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FSLA)

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FSLA), a federal law, is very similar to the Massachusetts Minimum Fair Wage Law. FLSA also regulates federal minimum wage requirements and time and a half overtime pay. In work situations where both state and federal laws apply, employers must follow the law with the higher standards. Certain employees in administrative, executive, or professional positions are exempt from overtime pay. To qualify, both a salaries test and duties test must be met.

Massachusetts Blue Laws

Blue Laws provide regulations for businesses operating on Sundays or holidays. Standard guidelines are set regarding Sunday and holiday pay. Permits for operation on certain holidays by certain types of business must be obtained in accordance with Blue Laws. In Massachusetts, Blue Laws protect a retail employee from being fired or penalized for refusing to work on a Sunday or holiday.

Family Medical Leave Act

A federal law, FMLA ensures an employee’s right to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for:

  • The birth of a child.
  • An initial adjustment period for a newly adopted child or foster child.
  • The care of a family member with a serious health condition.
  • A serious health condition suffered by the employee, affecting his or her ability to perform at work.

To qualify for FMLA coverage, employees must be employed by the same company for at least 1,250 hours and for a minimum of one year. Additionally, the company must employ at least 50 people within a 75 mile radius.

Altman & Altman, LLP – Boston’s Workers’ Compensation Law Firm

Receiving proper pay and working conditions as dictated by both state and federal law is a basic right and should be taken seriously. Confronting an employer regarding unpaid or unfair wages is often challenging, but may be essential to your financial well being. At Altman & Altman, LLP our experienced Massachusetts workers compensation lawyers can help you determine your rights and options. We will help you obtain the compensation you deserve. Our attorneys are available 24 hours a day, and we will evaluate every detail of your case to position you for the best possible outcome. Contact us today for a free consultation about your case.

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