Home Employment Massachusetts Employee Rights

Massachusetts Employee Rights

Massachusetts Employee Rights

Massachusetts Employee Rights: A Comprehensive Guide

When it comes to employment, it’s essential to understand your rights as an employee. Massachusetts is one of the states in the US that offers robust employee rights protection laws. These laws cover everything from wages and hours to discrimination and harassment. In this article, we’ll provide a comprehensive guide on Massachusetts employee rights.

Wages and Hours

Massachusetts employers must adhere to state and federal laws that dictate minimum wage and overtime pay requirements. In Massachusetts, the minimum wage is $13.50 per hour. However, some cities and towns have implemented minimum wages that are higher than the state’s minimum wage. For example, the city of Cambridge’s minimum wage is $15 per hour.

Employees who work more than 40 hours in a workweek are entitled to overtime pay, which is 1.5 times their regular hourly rate. Massachusetts also has laws regarding meal breaks and rest breaks. Workers who work more than six hours are entitled to a 30-minute meal break and a 10-minute rest break for every four hours worked.

Unemployment Benefits

If you lose your job through no fault of your own, you may be eligible for unemployment benefits in Massachusetts. To qualify, you must meet certain criteria, such as:

– You worked for the past 15 months and earned a minimum of $4,100 during that time.
– You are available and able to work.
– You are actively seeking work.

The amount of unemployment benefits you receive is based on your salary and the amount you earned during the qualifying base period. The maximum weekly benefit amount is $855. Unemployment benefits last for up to 26 weeks.

Workers’ Compensation

If you are injured on the job, Massachusetts workers’ compensation laws require your employer to pay for your medical treatment, lost wages, and other related expenses. To be eligible for workers’ compensation, your injury must have occurred while performing your job duties.

You must report your injury to your employer within 30 days and file a workers’ compensation claim with your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance company. You may be entitled to benefits, including medical expenses, lost wages, and disability benefits.

Discrimination and Harassment

Massachusetts law prohibits discrimination against employees based on race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, national origin, disability, and age, among other protected classes. This means that employers cannot make employment decisions based on these characteristics.

Furthermore, employees have the right to work in an environment free from harassment. This includes sexual harassment, which is any unwanted sexual conduct that creates a hostile work environment. If you are being harassed or discriminated against, you should report it to your employer’s human resources department or to the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD).

Family and Medical Leave

If you need time off from work to care for a family member or for a qualifying medical reason, you may be eligible for family and medical leave in Massachusetts. Under the Massachusetts Parental Leave Act, eligible employees are entitled to up to eight weeks of unpaid leave to care for a newborn or newly adopted child.

Under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), eligible employees are entitled to up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for a qualifying medical condition or to care for a family member. To be eligible for FMLA, you must have worked for your employer for at least a year, worked at least 1,250 hours during that time, and work for an employer with at least 50 employees.

Whistleblower Protection

If you witness illegal or unethical actions by your employer, you have the right to report it without retaliation. Massachusetts whistleblower protection laws prohibit employers from firing, demoting, or otherwise retaliating against an employee who reports illegal or unethical activity.

If you believe you have been retaliated against for reporting misconduct, you should contact the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office, which enforces whistleblower protection laws.

Final Thoughts

Understanding your rights as an employee is essential to protect yourself from unfair treatment. Massachusetts has several laws in place that protect employees against discrimination, harassment, and other unlawful practices. If you believe your employer has violated any of these laws, contact the appropriate government agency or seek the guidance of an employment lawyer.

Massachusetts Employee Rights: Wage Laws

This section will talk about the state’s current minimum wage, hour laws, prevailing wage laws, and more:

Massachusetts Minimum Wage Rates:

The minimum wage in Massachusetts is currently $8.00 per hour. This wage is 75 cents more than the federal minimum wage ($7.25). Massachusetts minimum wage laws have remained unchanged since January 1st of 2008.

Massachusetts minimum wage laws apply to all employees except those being trained or rehabilitated in educational, charitable or religious institutions; members of religious organizations; agricultural workers; professional service workers, and outside salespeople who do not report to or visit their office on a daily basis.

Massachusetts employee right laws state that tipped workers must be paid a minimum of $2.63 per hour; however, if the tipped employee does not receive $8.00 per hour (tips included), the employer must pay the difference. The minimum hourly wages—according to Massachusetts employee rights—for agricultural workers is $1.60.

Payment of Wages: 

An employer must pay their employees within six days of the end of the pay period where the wages were earned if the employee was working for five or six days during the pay period. If the worker was employed for seven days or less than three days, the individual must be paid no later than seven days from the conclusion of the pay period.

Wage and Hour Laws for Employers:

An employer who chooses to provide paid vacations must treat said payments like any other wages under Massachusetts employee rights laws. Withholding vacation pay is the same as withholding regular wages and, as such, is deemed illegal.

According to Massachusetts Employee Law, employers must provide an employee with up to two hours off to vote if their employee requests it. Employees do not have to be compensated for this time, but are allowed the two-hour absence after the opening of the polls.

The Minimum Fair Wage Laws of Massachusetts do not require extra pay for holidays, night work or weekends; however, certain Massachusetts Blue Laws require a handful of retailers to pay premium for Sundays and certain holidays.

Massachusetts employee rights do not distinguish between part-time or full-time employment; both types of employees are covered by Massachusetts employee rights. In general, a work schedule is a matter of agreement between a worker and their employer. For more information on this topic, please contact: https://www.mass.gov/ago/

The majority of employees—according to Massachusetts employee rights—must be compensated at least one and one-half times their regular hourly pay rate for hours worked in excess of 40 hours in a standard work week. Several employees, such as executives, professionals and the majority of seasonal workers, are not allowed to receive overtime pay.

Wage Complaints: If you feel that your Massachusetts employee rights are being violated, you must file a complaint with the Office of the Attorney General’s Fair Labor and Business Practices Division. For phone numbers and addresses for all offices in the state, please visit www.mass.gov/ago.

Massachusetts Employee Rights: Civil Rights, Harassment and Discrimination

Under federal and state law, it is illegal for any employer to discriminate on the basis of sex, race, disability, ethnicity, national origin, age, sexual orientation and/or religion when rendering employment decisions, including firing, hiring, pay, discipline and promotion. Pervasive harassment on any of these bases—and subsequent retaliation against employees who complain about said harassment—are also illegal.

Massachusetts employee rights require employers with six or more employees to adopt policies against sexual harassment. The State’s Commission against Discrimination publishes “Sexual Harassment in the Workplace Guidelines” as well as sexual harassment policies and posters to and employers in constructing their own policy.

Massachusetts Employee Rights: Hiring Process

According to Massachusetts employee rights, it is unlawful for an employer to make a record of, request, use an application form which requests, or discriminate against workers or applicants for employment who fails to provide information concerning:

1. MA Employee Rights: Detention, dispositions or arrests in which no convictions resulted

2. MA Employee Rights: First convictions for drunkenness, speeding, simple assaults, disturbance of the peace, affray, minor traffic violations, or

3. MA Employee Rights: Any misdemeanor convictions where the date of conviction or completion of incarceration, whichever comes later occurred five years or more before the date of application or request for information, unless the applicant is convicted of any offense within the five years preceding the date of application or request for information

MA employee rights place no restrictions on an employer’s ability to ask about felony convictions. Moreover, an employer may inquire about misdemeanor convictions subject to the limitations imposed above.

If an employer wishes to screen an applicant’s criminal record—referred to as a Criminal offender Record Information report—must comply with the state’s criminal information and MA employee rights, specifically, those that deal with privacy laws. These MA employee rights require the employer to attain signed acknowledgment from the applicant before requesting the Criminal Offender Record information report. The employer must also provide the applicant with the ability to challenge the accuracy and relevancy of the information it contains.

If an employer wishes to administer a drug test, it must have a set policy and make sure it is applied to every applicant. Prospective employees may be required to disclose the use of prescription drugs to the administrator running the test. This information —according to MA employee rights– must be kept confidential and only be used to determine if the applicant passed or failed the drug test. This information is not provided to the employer. According to Massachusetts employee rights, random drug testing of existing employees is allowed only with respect to employees in safety-sensitive provisions.

All Massachusetts employers—according to MA employee rights– are required to verify that every new employee is either a citizen of the United States or authorized to work in the United States. All employees must complete the Employment Eligibility Verification Form (I-9) and produce documentation within three days following their hire date. Failure to file the I-9 may result in penalties and audits by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

All Massachusetts employers are not allowed—according to MA employee rights–to discriminate against their employees based on their immigration status. Thus, when an employee satisfies the employer that he or she is permitted to work in the United States, the employee’s immigration status may not be used in any other employment decision.