Employment Law – Frequently Asked Questions

Posted On October 3, 2017 by Murphy Law Group in Business Law
Employment Law

Eight-hour workdays can be especially taxing if you do not work a desk job and are required to stay on your feet all day long. Employees are assured certain breaks from work with an appropriated compensation. Employees should be rewarded for their hard work with suitable break time, travel time, minimum wage, etc. Massachusetts has provisions in place to make sure all employees are treated with the proper care and attention.

The Massachusetts Court System through the Mass.gov website has compiled a list with the most frequently asked questions regarding employment law in Massachusetts:

Does my employer have to give me two 15-minute breaks per day?

Any employee who works for a period more than 6 hours must be given one 30- minute break for lunch. This one half-hour meal break is unpaid. An employer is not required to give any other breaks throughout the day other than a single meal break.

This employment law is specified in Mass. Gen. Laws chapter 149, section 100 which states, “No person shall be required to work for more than six hours during a calendar day without an interval of at least thirty minutes for a meal. Any employer, superintendent, overseer or agent who violates this section shall be punished by a fine of not less than three hundred nor more than six hundred dollars.”

Must I be paid for time that I am “on call”?

According to the Massachusetts regulation 454 CMR 27.04(2), “all on-call time is compensable working time unless the employee is not required to be at the work site or another location, and is effectively free to use his or her time for his or her own purposes.”

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Fact sheet #22 reports that any employee that is on-call while at a work site or on employer’s premises is compensable. If an employee is on-call at his home or is allowed to leave messages where he can be reached, he is not considered compensable in most cases, with exceptions.

Must I be paid for time I spend traveling to work?

According to the Massachusetts regulation 454 CMR 27.04(4),

(4) Travel Time

  • Ordinary travel time to and from work is not compensable working time.
  • An employee that works at a fixed site and is traveling to anywhere different than his regular fixed site, will be compensated for all travel time and be reimbursed for associated travel expenses. All traveling is covered if it is outside the employee’s typical commute to and from work.
  • If an employer requires an employee to report to a site that is not his typical site and to take transportation, the employee is compensated for all subsequent time after his report time begins and includes any subsequent travel to and from the work site.
  • An employee that is directed to travel from one place to another after the beginning of or before the end of the work day will be compensated for all travel time and be reimbursed for all traveling expenses.
  • If an employee’s travel requires he be away from home overnight he will be compensated according to Massachusetts regulation 29 C.F.R. 785.39.

How old must a child be to babysit in Massachusetts?

According to the Fair Labor Division under the Office of the Attorney General, minors under the age of 14 cannot work. However there are exceptions, such as babysitting, working as a news carrier, working on farms, or working in entertainment with a permit. Minors from ages 14 to 17 in Massachusetts need a work permit to be able to work. After 8:00 PM all minors under the age of 18 must be under the supervision of an adult or supervisor while working.

Must employees be given time off work to vote?

Employers are required to give an employee two hours leave after the time the polls open in their respective town or city to vote. It is in the discretion of the employer is he compensates the employee’s leave to vote.

This employment law is specified in Mass. Gen. Laws chapter 149, section 178 which states, “no owner, superintendent or overseer in any manufacturing, mechanical or mercantile establishment shall employ or permit to be employed therein any person entitled to vote at an election, during the period of two hours after the opening of the polls in the voting precinct, ward or town in which such person is entitled to vote, if he shall make application for leave of absence during such period.”

Must employees be paid time and a half for Sunday work?

An employer must pay overtime for an employee working on Sunday if the employee works more than 40-hour weeks or if the respective union requires overtime pay for work on Sunday.

Retail stores may not require its employees to work on Sundays and may not punish any employee that refuses to work on Sundays. Non-managerial employees must be paid time and one-half while working on Sundays. Employees may not work seven consecutive days. Violations of this provision are punishable by a fine of up to $1,000.

Mass. Gen. Laws chapter 136, section 6 under articles 1-55, specifies the extent of operation of all businesses on Sunday.

Can tipped employees be paid less than minimum wage?

As of July 1, 2017, employees may be paid less than minimum wage at a rate of $3.75 per hour if they receive more than $20 a month in tips. Any employer who chooses to pay its employees $3.75 per hour must notify the employee first, and the employee must receive at least minimum wage when tips and wages are pooled. If wages and tips do not combine to be validly assessed as minimum wage, the employer is required to pay the difference. Tips must be distributed through a valid tip pool.

This Massachusetts employment law is specified in Mass. Gen. Laws chapter 151, section 7 which states, “In determining wage an employer is required to pay a tipped employee, the amount paid to such employee by the employer shall be an amount equal to: (1) the cash wage paid such employee which for purposes of such determination shall not be less than $3.75; and (2) an additional amount on account of the tips received by such employee which amount is equal to the difference between the wage specified in clause one ($11/hour).”

Tip distributing is specified in Mass. Gen. Laws chapter 149, section 152A which states, “(c) . . . an employer may administer a valid tip pool and may keep a record of the amounts received for bookkeeping or tax reporting purposes.”

What is the minimum number of hours for which an employee must be paid on a given work day?

An employee must be paid for at least 3 hours of work if he was scheduled for three hours of work or more. According to the Massachusetts regulation 454 CMR 27.04(1), “when an employee who is scheduled to work three or more hours reports for duty at the time set by the employer, and that employee is not provided with the expected hours of work, the employee shall be paid for at least three hours on such day at no less than the basic minimum wage.

I’m an employer. What posters do I need and how do I get them?

Posters required to be in a place of business by Federal Law can be found at the Department of Labor site. The DOL’s site has a Posters page with links to all of the required posters. https://www.dol.gov/general/topics/posters/

Posters required to be in a place of business by State Law can be found at Mass.gov. Mass.gov has a Poster Requirements page with links to all of the required posters. http://www.mass.gov/lwd/labor-standards/dls/massachusetts-workplace-poster-requirements.html

Employee-employer relationships work smoothly if both parties follow the regulations laid out for them under state and federal laws. Should you have any questions regarding your employment or Massachusetts employment laws, do not hesitate to contact attorneys at the Murphy Law Group at (978) 686-3200.