What Massachusetts Employers Need to Know for a Compliant Start to 2020

13 January 2020 Labor & Employment Law Perspectives Blog

As of January 1, Massachusetts employers have a number of new compliance issues that cannot wait.

Per existing statute, the Massachusetts minimum wage increased to $12.75 per hour for non-exempt employees, and tipped employees must now be paid at least $4.95 per hour. If a tipped employee’s total hourly rate – inclusive of the $4.95 per hour and tips – drops below $12.75 for a shift, the employer must also pay the difference.

The minimum salary threshold for overtime exemption for administrative, executive, and professional employees has also increased, effective January 1. To maintain overtime exemptions, make sure your “white collar” overtime-exempt employees are earning at least $684 per workweek as of January 1 ($35,568 annually), with up to 10% of the minimum threshold attributable to nondiscretionary bonuses and/or incentive payments. To qualify as “highly compensated” overtime-exempt workers, employees must now earned $107,432 per year.

Massachusetts employers will remember that, back in September, the Office of the Massachusetts Attorney General (AGO) issued its Labor Day report, which highlighted a number of enforcement priorities, including minimum wage and overtime violations. Some industries fared better than others, with the AGO particularly focused on retail, healthcare, hospitality, construction, and cleaning services. Whatever the industry, the above-noted wage and hour changes for 2020 are in effect now.

As of January 31, 2020, employers who have not been granted a private plan exemption from MA Paid Family and Medical Leave contributions must file their first quarterly reports and submit contributions on all covered individuals for the previous calendar quarter (October through December 2019). If you missed the December 20, 2019 deadline for seeking a private plan exemption for this first quarter, do not dismay. The Department of Family and Medical Leave is accepting applications on a rolling basis for subsequent quarters, provided that applications must be approved in the quarter prior to the quarter in which the exemption will take effect.

In light of these changes, 2020 is a great year for MA employers to review their current wage-and-hour practices and paid leave policies to ensure they are up to date.

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