How do Massachusetts employees know if they are entitled to overtime pay and what can they do if they don’t receive it? Many employees who are entitled to receive overtime pay do not receive it because their employer is under the misconception that the company doesn’t have to pay overtime if the employee is paid a salary. In some instances, companies are not paying overtime in order to increase profitability and/or competitiveness in the marketplace.
Massachusetts law requires that most hourly and salaried employees receive one and one half times their regular rate of pay for all hours the employee worked in excess of forty hours in one week. An employer doesn’t need to pay overtime to any employee simply because the employee worked more than eight hours in a given day. Moreover, an employee’s use of sick, vacation or holiday time during the work week isn’t required to be counted toward the forty hours.
Not all employees are entitled to receive overtime pay in Massachusetts. There are exemptions for certain employees, including professional, executive, administrative, certain high level computer employees, outside sales employees and highly paid employees who meet both a certain salary level and job responsibility level. In general, however, non-managerial employees who work more than forty hours in a given week must be given overtime pay in Massachusetts. It is important to know that the job title alone does not control whether an employee has a legal right to overtime pay. A company can call an employee a manager, but the employee would still need to meet the salary level and job responsibility level in order to qualify for an executive or administrative exemption from the overtime laws.
Employees who are entitled to receive overtime pay and don’t receive it have rights under Massachusetts laws. Currently Massachusetts law provides that employers who fail to pay overtime or other wages must pay triple damages if they are found liable. Employers can end up paying three times the amount of wages to the employee, plus interest and attorney’s fees. Many business interests have been lobbying to change the law, but for the time being, there are mandatory triple damages in overtime pay claim cases and other wage and hour cases.
Massachusetts wage and hour laws are complex. While we can’t give advice through this blog, if you have questions about whether overtime applies to a specific job, or you want to make a claim for overtime pay, please call Attorney Maura Greene at 617-936-1580. In 2012 the Boston Globe named Maura Greene as one of Boston’s top-rated employment attorneys.