Minimum Wage

Produced by Lydia Edwards, Director of Legal Services Brazilian Immigrant Center, Massachusetts Law Reform Institute, Neighborhood Legal Services
Last Updated January 2016

What is the minimum wage in Massachusetts?

Most workers

The minimum wage is $10.00 an hour for most workers.1 (Note: In January 2017 the minimum wage will increase to $11.00 an hour for most workers.)

Service Workers

Employers can pay “service workers” $3.35 an hour, but they can only pay you this rate if $3.35/hr plus the tips you make add up to at least $10/hr.2 See Minimum wage for service workers.

Farm workers

Employers can pay farm workers $1.60 an hour.  But if your employer used more than 500 “man-days” of farm labor in any quarter in the last year, he must pay you the federal minimum wage of $7.25/hr.3

A man-day is any day that a worker does farm work for at least an hour.

Does the minimum wage apply to all workers?

No, people who do some jobs do not have a right to the minimum wage. These jobs include:

  • work by independent contractors;
  • agricultural and farm work;
  • work by people in some training programs. These programs must be run by a school, a religious group, or a charitable organization;
  • work by members of religious orders;
  • professional service;
  • and work by outside salespersons who sell products outside of their office. These are salesman who do not visit or report to the office daily.4

Minimum wage for service workers

Service workers are people who get tips as well as their regular pay. If you are a service worker, your minimum wage is still $10 an hour. This $10 can come from both tips and pay. If your wage plus tips does not add up to $10/hr your employer must pay you the full minimum wage of $10/hr.5

Employers can pay service workers a “service rate” of at least $3.35 an hour. But you must earn at least $10 an hour, on average, in tips plus service rate in a week.

Example

Antoine’s cab company pays him $3.35 an hour. Some weeks he gets less than $6.65 an hour in tips. His employer must raise Antoine’s hourly wage on these weeks to make sure he gets at least $10 an hour in wages plus tips.

If you average less than $6.65 an hour in tips in any week, your employer must still pay you enough so that you end up getting $10 an hour.

Your employer can decide to pool all of the tips together, and then divide the tips among workers. But money from tips can only be given to service workers, and not management.

What if I am under 16, does minimum wage apply to me?

Yes, the minimum wage applies to all workers in Massachusetts. It does not depend on your age.6

Do babysitters and housekeepers have to get paid the minimum wage?

Yes! Housekeepers and baby sitters are “domestic workers”. Other jobs like cooks, day workers, home health aides and visiting nurses are also domestic worker jobs.

If you are a domestic worker you must get paid minimum wage.7

You may be an “independent contractor” if you

  • only work off and on,
  • you control your own schedule and
  • you work for several families or households.

Independent contractors are not covered by minimum wage laws.

What if I have a disability, do I have a right to a minimum wage?

Yes! Workers with disabilities have a right to the minimum wage. Your employer can only pay workers less than the minimum wage if he has a special certificate. Only the Director of the Department of Labor can give employers this certificate.8

If I work as an apprentice, or am learning a new trade or occupation, does my employer have to pay me the minimum wage?

It depends.

Your employer can pay you less than the minimum wage for a short time. The Department of Labor must have approved your employer’s apprentice The Director of the Department of Labor must give your employer a certificate.

  • Your employer can pay apprentices less than the minimum wage only for the time stated in the certificate.
  • While you are an apprentice, your employer must pay you at least 80% of the minimum wage.
  • Your employer must start paying you the minimum wage as soon as the time period on the certificate is up.9

Endnotes:

1 G.L. Chapter 151 §§ 1, 2; 454 CMR § 27.00

2 454 CMR § 27.00

3 29 U.S.C. §§ 213(a)(6)(A), 203(u); 29 CFR § 780.300, et. seq.

4 G.L. Chapter 151 § 2

5 454 CMR § 27.00

6 G.L. Chapter 151 § 1

7 G.L. Chapter 151 § 2. Only a few jobs are not covered by Massachusetts minimum wage law. Domestic work is not in the list of excluded jobs, and their employers must pay minimum wage.

8 G.L. Chapter 151 § 9; 454 CMR § 27.00

9 454 CMR § 27.00

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