(Last Updated On: March 30, 2023)
As your Massachusetts business grows, it’s important to update your handbooks, policies, and procedures to ensure compliance with MA employment law. Many of the laws we’ll discuss in this series have notice requirements. So, you’ll want to download these notices from the issuing agency’s website and post them in visible areas in the workplace.
Rodman Employment Law is here to help you stay in compliance as your business booms. Here are some laws you’ll want to be aware of once you hire your first employee. Because of the nature of employment law, this isn’t an exhaustive list of employer obligations, and is meant to act as a primer. If your business is growing, contact Rodman Employment Law to get advice tailored to your unique business and situation.
1. Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)
This federal law sets standards for minimum wage, overtime pay, and child labor. It applies to most employers, including those with just one employee. As an MA employer, you’re legally required to display a poster outlining FLSA requirements in your workplace.
2. MA Wage Act
The Massachusetts Wage Act also dictates minimum wage, overtime, and timely payment of wages in the Commonwealth. As of January 1, 2023, the minimum wage in the Commonwealth is $15 per hour for most workers, $8 per hour for most agricultural workers, and $6.75 per hour is the minimum service rate for tipped employees. Employers must pay their employees at least the minimum wage per hour for each hour worked. Most non-exempt employees are also entitled to overtime pay, which is pay at 1.5 times the regular rate for any hours worked over 40 in a given workweek. MA Employment Law also requires that employees must be paid weekly or bi-weekly, though there are some exceptions. The Massachusetts Wage Act mandates that MA employers pay their employees on time. If wages for a certain worker are late, the law requires that the employer pay them three times the amount of the late wages plus interest and attorneys’ fees. This is true even if the employer pays the overdue wages before a lawsuit is filed, or if it was an honest mistake.
Wage and hour laws in Massachusetts are strict, and the penalties are serious.
3. Paid Sick Leave
For Massachusetts businesses with fewer than 11 employees, the Commonwealth’s Earned Sick Time law requires that employers provide workers with unpaid sick leave. This means that an employee’s job is protected while they are using sick leave. Employers with 11 or more employees must provide paid sick time. Most Massachusetts employees have the right to earn and take up to 40 hours of sick time per year. At minimum, employees must earn an hour of sick time for every 30 hours worked.
4. Workers’ Compensation Insurance
The Massachusetts Department of Industrial Accidents requires all businesses to have workers’ compensation insurance, regardless of how many people are on staff. This type of coverage provides employees with benefits if they experience a work-related injury or illness while performing their job.
5. Unemployment Insurance and Payroll Tax Withholding
As an MA employer, you’ll have to keep two things in mind with payroll. The state requires all employers to pay an annual tax based on how many of their qualified ex-employees collect the insurance. This tax gets paid to these ex-employees to financially support them for a short period while they’re out of work and searching for a new job. In addition, you’ll also need to withhold Massachusetts income tax from workers’ paychecks. Consider hiring a payroll provider and tax expert. Rodman Employment Law can connect you with reputable service providers that specialize in these areas.
6. Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 (USERRA)
The USERRA is another essential piece of legislation to have on your radar as an MA business owner. This act protects the worker’s rights and opportunities of those that are currently in the military or who have recently come back from service and are rejoining the workforce. Under USERRA, active and retired military have:
- Protection from discrimination based on military status or military obligations.
- The right to re-employment upon conclusion of military service.
- Protection from termination for a period of time after returning from service.
- Certain rights in connection with pensions and other employee benefits plans.
7. Paid Family Medical Leave
Beginning in 2021, Massachusetts workers became eligible to take leave under the Paid Family and Medical Leave law. This law applies to all employers regardless of headcount and there are payroll and tax implications that you should be aware of.
Most employees can take up to 12 weeks of paid leave to care for an ill family member or to bond with their born or adopted child. And qualified employees can take up to 20 weeks of paid leave if they’re experiencing a serious health condition. This is job-protected leave, so if you have questions about how to handle an employee’s PFML leave, contact our team.
8. Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA)
This federal law requires employers to provide a safe workplace for employees. OSHA applies to most employers, including those with just one employee.
9. Domestic Workers Bill of Rights
Did you know that if you employ one or more domestic worker in your home, you may be an employer under the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights? Domestic worker roles include household staff whose main duties are housekeeping, cleaning, childcare, cooking, home management, or caring for someone who is elderly or sick.
This bill of rights requires you to have a written agreement between you and the domestic worker who works 16 or more hours per week. There are important requirements for this contract, so be sure to consult with trusted counsel if you employ domestic workers in your home.
10. Massachusetts Equal Rights Act
Another piece of legislation that applies to all MA employers, regardless of size, is the Massachusetts Equal Rights Act. This law protects workers from discrimination on a variety of fronts and ensures that they receive their fair and full wages. It prohibits employers from discriminating against a worker based on their sex, race, color, creed, national origin, age, or ability.
10. Massachusetts Civil Rights Act
This act prohibits interference with the secured rights of Massachusetts residents and visitors by threats, intimidation, or coercion.
Remain Compliant with MA Law as You Grow
Got questions for MA employment lawyers as your business evolves and your team expands?
Contact Rodman Employment Law at 617-820-5250 if you need guidance updating or creating handbooks, policies, and procedures as you enjoy a new season of growth.