As we rang in the New Year, several new employment law changes took effect in Massachusetts on January 1, 2020.  There are also other initiatives that Massachusetts employers should keep their eye on as the year progresses. 

A.    New Laws Now in Effect

  • The minimum wage will increase each year between 2020 and 2023. Effective January 1st, it increased by $0.75 from $12.00 to $12.75 per hour.
  • The minimum wage for tipped employees increased from $4.35 to $4.95 per hour. Note: the sum of an employee’s tips and the tipped minimum wage must equal or exceed the regular minimum wage at the end of each shift. This calculation can no longer be done based on a weekly average.
  • For retail employers, the premium pay rate for Sundays and some holidays will decrease. For Sundays, as well as Memorial Day, Independence Day, and Labor Day, the premium rate will decrease from 1.4 times the employee’s regular rate to 1.3 times the regular rate.  However, premium pay on New Year’s Day, Columbus Day, and Veterans Day must still be paid at 1.5 times the regular rate.

B.    Potential Changes Coming in 2020

  • Predictive scheduling laws restrict an employer’s ability to set employee schedules, often requiring significant advanced notice to employees of any changes or restricting an employer’s ability to schedule an employee for a closing and opening shift back-to-back. In Massachusetts, a bill was recently introduced to mandate at least eleven (11) hours between employees’ shifts.
  • Massachusetts may also act to increase the white-collar overtime salary threshold even higher than the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) increase that became effective on January 1st. Although no legislation has yet been introduced, Massachusetts is a very employee friendly state, and it would not be a surprise to see it follow its sister states of Maine and New York and raise the minimum salary threshold beyond what the FLSA requires.