No matter what job you have in the Bay State, you have the right to be paid for the work you do. The Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development (LWD) and Attorney General’s Office (AGO) provide information on wage requirements in Massachusetts and how to file a wage complaint if you don’t think you’re being paid properly.
Minimum wage rates in Massachusetts are different depending on the job you have. New minimum wages went into effect on Jan. 1, 2017. The standard minimum wage is now $11 an hour, but there are minimum wage exceptions for some industries.
- Service Rate — If you have a job in the service industry, like bartending or waiting tables, and get more than $20 in tips each month, the minimum wage is $3.75 an hour. However, combining your average hourly tips with the service rate must add up to at least $11 an hour. Otherwise, your employer is responsible for making up the difference. If you get paid the service rate, legally you should get to keep all of your tips, or they should be pooled together and split between you and your coworkers.
- Agricultural Rate — If you work on a farm, or grow or harvest agricultural products, plants, or flowers, your minimum wage is $8 an hour. This rate may be different if you are 17 years old or under or if you’re working for an immediate family member.
Overtime, Sunday, and Holiday Compensation
If you work more than 40 hours in a work week, you’re usually entitled to 1.5 times your normal hourly rate as overtime compensation for the extra hours. In some jobs, you’ll also be paid at least 1.5 times the normal rate if you work on a Sunday or certain holidays.
However, some employees don’t qualify for overtime pay, including executives, professionals, and wait staff.
If you’re part of a public works project for the state, like construction work, vehicle operation, office moving and cleaning services, or certain housing authority work, the Massachusetts Prevailing Wage Program sets your hourly minimum wage.
The prevailing wage rate depends on the type of job you do. The required wages for your job have to be posted at your work site. You can also contact the Department of Labor Standards (DLS) within LWD to find out your required wage.
For more information on prevailing wages, read our blog on the Prevailing Wage Program in Massachusetts.
If you don’t think you’re being paid properly at your job, you can file a wage complaint.
- Non-Payment of Wages — If you haven’t been paid for your work or aren’t getting overtime pay, the legal minimum wage, or your tips, file the Non-Payment of Wage and Workplace Complaint Form.
- Prevailing Wages — If you haven’t been paid the proper prevailing wage on a public works project, file the Prevailing Wage Complaint Form.
It can take a few weeks to process a wage complaint. The AGO will decide what steps to take based on their investigation. It’s illegal for your employer to fire you, take away your pay, or retaliate against you in any way for filing a complaint.
Understanding fair wage laws can help you make sure that you’re paid what you’ve earned. Stay tuned for the next post in this series to learn more about workers’ rights in Massachusetts.
Check out part one of the Workers’ Rights blog series to learn about workplace safety in Massachusetts, and share this post with family and friends who work in the Bay State.
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