Oppressive and Unreasonable Wages
A new minimum wage took effect on January 1, 2017 both at the federal and state level. The new minimum wage in Massachusetts is $11.00 per hour. This is higher than the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. Anything below the minimum wage is considered oppressive and unreasonable, according to MA law.
It is important for small business owners to know that the only exceptions to this law are those specifically approved by the commissioner. Employers may not ask employees to accept a lower page as part of an employment contract. Such contracts are considered null and void. Thus, having an employee agree to and sign such a document does not allow small business owners to get around this new law. Read more about this change at https://malegislature.gov/Laws/GeneralLaws/PartI/TitleXXI/Chapter151/Section1.
New minimum wage laws also apply to tipped employees. Base pay for tip-based employees must not be less than $3.35 per hour. Additionally, employees must make at least the minimum wage of $11 per hour with the inclusion of tips. Although tips may be given directly to employees, rather than through the employer, employers are allowed what’s known as a “tip credit”. Tips earned can be used to make up the difference between the minimum wage rate at the tip employee’s base pay. This is on a week-per-week basis. If a tip-based employee does not make $11.00 per hour once tips are added, then employers must pay them the difference.
There are restrictions to the tip credit if an employee performs both tip-based and non-tip based work. Tip credits may not apply to employees who spend 20% or more of their time performing non-tip work. Employers must pay the full minimum wage (of $11/hour) as base pay for all hours worked by such employees. There is no credit for any tips earned.
Other 2017 New MA Laws
For a list of all 2017 new MA laws, visit the state website at https://blog.mass.gov/masslawlib/new-laws/massachusetts-laws-effective-january-1-2017/. Additional law changes apply to public records, drug stewardship, and financial disclosures by public officials and employees. Follow our blog for helpful updates on real estate, family, personal injury, business, probate, corporate, and criminal law topics.