Massachusetts Minimum Wage Laws as of January 1, 2019

I have had a few employer clients come to me with questions about the minimum wage laws and the increases that keep coming up in Massachusetts.  Massachusetts does have higher minimum wage laws than the federal government. The law is intended to ensure employees are being paid a fair wage.  The new wage laws are part of the “Grand Bargain” legislation that was signed into law by Governor Charlie Baker on June 28, 2018.

As part of the “Grand Bargain,” the wage laws in Massachusetts are increasing in increments each year until January 2023, when a $15.00 minimum wage is reached.  As of January 1, 2019, the minimum wage in Massachusetts is $12.00 per hour. Tipped employees who earn more than $20.00 each month are required to receive minimum wages of $4.35 per hour, and this amount will also increase each year until it becomes $6.75 per hour in January 2023.  However, tipped employees must be notified of the law, and they still must receive at least a minimum of $12.00 per hour when actual tips and wages are combined. If the combined wages and tips do not at least equal $12.00 per hour, the employer is required to pay the employee the difference.

Massachusetts is also phasing out one of its “blue laws” that required retail employers to pay their non-exempt employees time and a half for working on Sundays and holidays.  As of January 1, 2019, that new rate is 1.4 times the hourly rate. This will decrease each year until January 1, 2023 when the Sunday and holiday premium pay will be eliminated.

It is important for employers to keep up with the wage increases as they come each year.  Under the wage statute, an employer may be held liable to the employee if they fail to pay the proper wages in a timely manner.  The statute allows the employee to receive treble damages, interest, and attorney’s fees. For this reason, it is always a good idea to consult with an experienced employment attorney to make sure employment policies are in compliance with the law.