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Massachusetts Minimum Wage Set to Increase January 1, 2015

Massachusetts Wage and Salary Law

Like many employers I’m sure you received the same email (below) from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development today. It reminds employers that the minimum wage and minimum service wage increase to $9.00 per hour and $3.00 per hour, respectively, starting January 1, 2015. The email provides additional wage increases that will take effect on 1/1/2016 and 1/1/2017.

By 1/1/2017, the Massachusetts minimum wage will increase to $11.00 per hour and the service rate will increase to $3.75 per hour. Take note of these increases now and plan your hirings, employee compensation and other expenses accordingly.  Ensure you pay your employees the minimum wage as well as overtime so as to avoid business and personal liability for triple damages plus attorney’s fees and costs pursuant to the Massachusetts Wage Act.

Email from the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce :

Dear Employer:

I am writing to remind you that the minimum wage in Massachusetts increases from $8.00 per hour, to $9.00 per hour, effective January 1, 2015.

As you may know, legislation enacted last June calls for three annual one dollar increases in the regular minimum wage. On January 1, 2015, the minimum wage will be $9.00 per hour, on January 1, 2016, $10.00 per hour, and on January 1, 2017, $11.00 per hour.

The minimum wage law applies to all employees except those being rehabilitated or trained in charitable, educational, or religious institutions; members of religious orders; agricultural, floricultural, and horticultural workers; those in professional service; and outside salespersons not reporting to or visiting their office daily. See M.G.L. chapter 151, §§1and 2.

In addition to the increase to the state’s regular minimum wage, the service rate is also increasing, from the current $2.63 per hour, to $3.00 per hour, on January 1, 2015. Just like the regular minimum wage, there are two more annual increases after 2015 to the service rate: $3.35 per hour on January 1, 2016, and $3.75 per hour on January 1, 2017.

Wait staff, service employees and service bartenders may be paid  the service rate if they regularly receive tips of more than $20 a month, and if their average hourly tips, when added to the service rate, are equal to or exceed the regular minimum wage. See M.G.L. chapter 151, §7.

The law also increases the minimum wage for agricultural employees in Massachusetts to $8.00 per hour, effective January 1, 2015.

Failure to pay the minimum wage may subject employers to civil or criminal sanctions under M.G.L. c. 149, sec. 27C, enforced by the Attorney General, or to civil action under M.G.L. 149, sec. 150.

For further information regarding the Massachusetts state minimum wage, visit www.mass.gov/mwage

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