An update on Massachusetts wage and hour laws in 2016

Changes to Massachusetts employment laws offer added benefits in 2016.

Recent state and federal legislative and executive action have resulted in some significant employment law changes in 2016. For both employees and employers in Massachusetts it is critical to stay on top of them.

Employees need to understand their rights and seek legal counsel when an employer fails to follow the changes to the wage and hour requirements contained in the new laws.

Step increases to the minimum wage

Effective on the first of the year, the minimum wage increased from $9 to $10 per hour in general. The Massachusetts minimum wage is now more generous than the federal rate of $7.25, but the state has not gone as far as some of the cities on the West coast.

Exceptions exist for service workers whose base rate increased to $3.35. This rate only applies when employees earn more than $20 per month in tips.

Another step increase takes place next January when the minimum wage increases to $11 and $3.75 per hour respectively.

Earned sick leave law in full effect

Last summer, the legislature passed a law requiring employers to provide earned sick time. This law ensures that employees can take off a day to care for a sick child or stay home when ill without worrying about job loss.

Massachusetts employees can receive up to 40 hours of earned sick time. Only employers with more than 11 employees need to offer paid sick time.

The legislation had included a safe harbor period for employers who had employment policies that met certain guidelines. That period expired on January 1 st and now all employers need to fully comply with the new law.

Overtime protections - Exempt versus non-exempt classification

It is not just Massachusetts passing new employment laws. The Department of Labor announced a proposed rule change that will probably go into effect in 2016. The change will affect employee classification.

Exempt employees receive a salary and no overtime when they work more than 40 hours per week. These positions must generally meet certain rules to qualify as administrative, executive or professional work.

The proposed rule will change the pay requirement. An employee must earn a base salary of $50,400/year to qualify as exempt. This doubles the current salary requirements. For employees currently classified exempt is may mean a pay raise. They will either need to see a bump in yearly salary to stay exempt or start receiving overtime.

Enforcing the new requirements

If your employer is not following the new Massachusetts laws, you have remedies. The skilled employment attorneys at the Boston office of The Employee Rights Group, LLC can explain your rights and help you enforce them.

Keywords: wage and hour laws, minimum wage, sick leave law

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