A Full Guide to Massachusetts Overtime Laws

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Federal law. State law. When it comes to overtime, there’s a lot to keep in mind to make sure you’re compliant with all regulations. The team here at actiTIME knows this, and so we’ve made a helpful list of all the rules you need to follow when it comes to Massachusetts’ overtime laws. We’ve got your back!

Overtime laws in Massachusetts

What Are the Overtime Laws in Massachusetts?

When a state decides how to approach legislation concerning overtime, it has a few ways to go about it. It can create its own legal framework, or it can rely exclusively on the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Most states, like Massachusetts, opt for a combination of both. Before getting into the details of overtime law, it might be a good idea to review how overtime works on our post here.

In Massachusetts, a workweek is a seven-day period consisting of 24-hour days. They must be consecutive and can start on any day of the week, so long as it forms a consistent regime. Different jobs in one office (graphic designers, executive assistants, etc.) can have different workweek systems.

Every hour worked past forty hours in a single workweek, according to the FLSA, counts towards overtime. If employees work a different amount of hours each week, these cannot be averaged out to make overtime disappear.

Yes
Week 1:
47 hours
Week 2:
33 hours
Total:
73 regular hours
+ 7 overtime hours
No
Week 1:
47 hours
Week 2:
33 hours
Total:
80 regular hours

Illinois labor laws only count weekly overtime rates – if a worker works more than 8 hours in a single workday, these hours do not count as overtime (unlike in certain other states).

Massachusetts law, as compared to some other states, does not have a daily hourly limit (usually 8 hours) after which overtime begins to accrue.

Generally speaking, there are two methods of compensating for overtime hours worked:

  • Overtime pay rates: paid out at 1.5x the regular pay rate for an employee;
  • Compensatory time: for every overtime hour worked, workers can take 1.5 paid hours off.

Your employees can build up compensatory time so long as the amount doesn’t exceed 240 hours.

How Do I Calculate Overtime Pay in Massachusetts?

Keeping tabs on overtime rates can seem like a much bigger job than it is – once you know the ins and outs of overtime law, paying your employees what they’ve earned is simple.

One of the main things to keep track of in Massachusetts is the different types of minimum wage. The regular rate is $12.75 an hour, which means that overtime will be paid out at $19.13 an hour.

But for workers under 20 years of age, employers may pay them a training wage of $4.25 an hour during the first 90 days they’re on the job ($6.38 per overtime hour). In certain conditions, such as work-study programs offered at universities, students attending high school or college full-time while working part-time can be paid as low as $10.84 (85% of the normal minimum wage) for up to 20 working hours a week. This only applies to certain job positions.

Additionally, employees who receive a specific amount of monthly tips can be paid a minimum wage rater that’s lower than the state average. This is only in cases where they, including tips, receive at least $12.75 an hour.

For a minimum wage employee over the age of 20 who is not studying full time, a monthly payout might look like this:

Week 1:
Week 2:
Week 3:
Week 4:
Regular hours:
Overtime hours:
Total:
35 hours (35 regular)
41 hours (40 regular + 1 overtime)
40 hours (40 regular)
47 hours (40 regular + 7 overtime)
155 x $12.75 = $1976.25
8 x $19.13 = $153.04
$2129.29

Making sure all your workers are paid according to state law gets simpler with practice – there are, however, a couple nuances that you need to take into account.

There is a set of extra laws in Massachusetts known as the Blue Laws. These stipulate that many employers are not permitted to require employees to work on Sundays and holidays, and when they are allowed then they must pay out those hours at 1.5x the regular rate of pay. For retail employees, this does not apply when they work more than 40 hours in a workweek (unless a labor agreement has been reached through collective bargaining).

Though the Blue Laws state that Sundays and holiday hours must be paid out at 1.5x the regular pay rate, time worked on those days does not count towards overtime unless this was agreed through collective bargaining.

Commissioned employee in Massachusetts, as compared to other states, are not required to have their commission payouts included in their regular rate of pay (which would then raise the overtime rate to be paid out). The Blue Laws, however, require that commissioned employees be paid out at one and a half times the minimum wage for any overtime hours worked, as well as hours worked on holidays or Sundays.

For this rule to take effect, three conditions must be met:

  • the employee must work in a service or retail establishment;
  • the employee’s regular pay rate must be higher than 1.5x the minimum wage during the week that overtime/holiday/Sunday hours are worked;
  • more than half of a worker’s earnings during the period in question must derive from

Otherwise commissions, bonuses, incentive rates, and advances on expense accounts are not taken into account when calculating overtime or regular pay rates.

Who Is and Isn’t Qualified for Overtime Pay in Massachusetts?

Not all workers qualify for extra pay for overtime hours – the FLSA was written with particular employees in mind. This was because, at the time, there was public concern over the exploitation of particular working groups…manual laborers, say.

There are two extra conditions that help you figure out if an employee qualifies for overtime rates or not. At least one of the must be fulfilled:

  • Weekly income has to be less than $684 (or $35,568 a year for full-time employees);
  • The job in question cannot appear on the exemption list printed below.

There’s a list in the FLSA of positions that are exempt from overtime pay when workers earn more than $684 a week (in Massachusetts – nationally, the number is $455):

Executives (who manage more than two people full-time);
Administrative workers;
Non-manual professional workers (artists, teachers, programmers);
External salespeople;
Independent contractors;
Certain transportation and agricultural workers;
Certain live-in employees.

In Massachusetts, there are a couple additional positions added to the list:

  • Trainees in executive, professional or administrative positions who earn more than $80 a week;
  • Agricultural workers engaged in planting, harvesting and raising crops (does not include workers who inspect, clean, weigh, sort or package produce);
  • Employees with common carrier licenses, even “those who do not operate buses or perform any duties related to the common carrier statute.”

In Feb 2020, a legal case ruled that au pairs should be paid overtime (which normally does not happen), and the United States Supreme Court has spent the first half of that year deciding to review the case or not.

If there are any questions left about whether or not a worker is exempt or not, you can check both Massachusetts labor laws as well as the FLSA

Track Overtime Using actiTIME!

Massachusetts overtime law is different than in other states and becoming informed is your first step to empowering your company to comply with fair payment standards.

And we at actiTIME love empowering businesses to comply with the law so that you can go back to work with peace of mind. Check out our products and resources to find out more about what we can do for you.

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