Effective January 1, 2019, important changes take effect concerning the payment of hourly wages in Massachusetts. Both employers paying and employees earning minimum wage, especially retail employees who work on Sundays and tipped employees, should take note of these changes:
- The mandatory minimum wage increases from $11/hour to $12/hour.
- This rate will continue to rise each year until it reaches $15/hour in January 2023.
- The minimum wage for tipped employees increases from $3.75/hour to $4.35/hour.
- This rate will increase in steps until it reaches $6.75/hour in January 2023.
- It is always important to remember for tipped employees paid at the lower hourly “tip” rate that their combined tips and hourly wages must equate to at least the applicable regular minimum wage. If the employee’s pay equates to a rate lower than minimum wage the employer must pay the difference. Many employers fail to meet this standard.
- For retail employees, the mandatory Sunday work overtime rate reduces from 1.5 x the employee’s regular rate to 1.4 times the employee’s regular rate.
Employers who fail to adhere to these changes run the risk of the strict penalties afforded under the Massachusetts Wage Act, which include mandatory triple damages, required payment of the prevailing plaintiff’s attorneys’ fees, and interest.