The Massachusetts Minimum Wage

As an employee it is important to know that your employer is abiding by minimum wage regulations.  Minimum wage regulations were created by President Franklin Roosevelt as part of the New Deal.  It is particularly important to be aware of the minimum wage regulations if you are a tipped employee.  Waiters and waitresses should be aware of the basic distinctions in the minimum wage to ensure they are not underpaid.

There is a federal minimum wage, but most states have higher standards than the federal level.  Massachusetts is no different:

Federal Law:  The federal minimum wage is $7.25.

Massachusetts:  The Massachusetts minimum wage is $8.00 an hour or .10 an hour above the FLSA rate if it is higher than $8.00.   

Tipped Employees:  The minimum wage for tipped employees is $2.63.  In order to qualify, the amount of tips must bring the hourly wage at least up to the minimum wage. 

Other Issues: 

Deductions:  The FLSA allows employers to withhold money from a worker’s paycheck to satisfy a debt as long as it does not cause the employee’s earnings to fall below the minimum wage. 

Breaks:  The FLSA does not require an employer to provide break time.  However, in Massachusetts all employers must provide a thirty minute work break if an employer works for more than six hours in a day.

Alternatively, the Attorney General can exempt a business that requires continuous operation if it won’t affect worker safety. 

Also, Collective Bargaining agreements may provide for different breaks.   

Exceptions:  Some employees do not have to be paid pursuant to minimum wage laws. 

White Collar and Administrative Workers:  Are you exempt?  There are two tests: 

1)      An employee must earn at least $455 a week and be paid on a salary basis. 

An employee’s primary duty must be to perform non-manual work.  The work must include the exercise of discretion and independent judgment regarding matters of significance. 

New Minimum Wages In Effect for 2016

As of January 1, 2016, the minimum wage is $9.60 per hour in Rhode Island and $10.00 per hour in Massachusetts.  Contact Muller Law with any questions you have regarding the impact these increases have on you or your business.