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Legislative And Ballot Initiative Landscape in Massachusetts

26 Oct

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Update Applicable to:

Potentially all Massachusetts employers and multi-state employers with workers in Massachusetts.

What happened?

In the Massachusetts legislature there has been a series of bills that will impact all employers and may require them to create, review and update their policies and practices. For now, employers should be on the lookout to see if the bills become law and how they will impact their business. Bills without an effective date would take effect 90 days after the Governor signs the bill.

What are the details?

House Bill 1944/Senate Bill 1182: Treble Damages Avoidance: under the terms of the bill, employees making employment termination claims seeking to recover unpaid compensation and treble damages must first make a written demand to the employer specifying those sums. The employer would have 15 days to respond or cure the employee’s demand, without incurring statutory treble damages during that time. If an employer can make a good-faith argument that the demand is unfounded, a court cannot award statutory or treble damages.

House Bill 1925/Senate Bill 1200: Minimum Wage in Massachusetts. This bill seeks to raise the minimum wage to $20.00 over five years and the tipped minimum wage to $12.00 over five years, effective January 1, 2028.

House Bill 1872/Senate Bill 1188: Minimum Wage for Tipped Employees. The bill would raise the minimum wage to a tipped employee in a series of annual phases up to 2031. The first rise would begin on January 1, 2025, raising the minimum cash wage paid to a tipped employee to $6.75.

House Bill 1855: Pending Salary at Employee’s Death. The bill would enable employers to pay out a deceased employee’s pending salary to the surviving family, eliminating an employer’s obligation to hold the salary pending intestacy litigation.

House Bill 1838: Overtime for Healthcare Workers. This bill would prohibit mandatory overtime work for healthcare workers, with strict exceptions for emergency situations where overtime work is required for a patient’s safety. Even under the exception, healthcare employers would be required to make a good-faith effort to have such work covered on a voluntary basis.

House Bill 1957: How Much Time is Overtime.  The bill seeks to change hours worked over 40 hours in a week to include hours worked over eight (8) hours per day to be paid at one and a half (1.5) times the employee’s compensation rate. The current law requires that most employees be paid overtime for all hours worked over 40 hours in a given work week and state law does not call for overtime after eight hours in a given day.

BALLOT INITIATIVES 

Gig Worker Classification. An industry-backed group and a labor union have proposed letting voters decide whether ride-share drivers in Massachusetts should be treated as independent contractors or employees and guaranteed certain benefits and be allowed to unionize. If the proposals gather enough signatures and are not dismissed by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, voters will have a say in gig worker classification on the November 2024 ballot.

For more information, please see the links below:

Law Firm articles: Article 1, Article 2, Article 3, Article 4

News articles: Article 1, Article 2, Article 3

What do employers need to do?

Employers should visit the above site links to see if the bill(s) of interest is/are signed by the Governor. As the Littler Firm expressed, “said bills, if enacted, will require employers to establish, revisit or revise policies and practices.

Need help understanding how changes to employment laws will affect your business?

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This communication is intended solely for the purpose of conveying information. The present post might incorporate hyperlinks directing readers to websites managed by third-party entities. The inclusion of any links within this communication is meant to serve as points of reference and could encompass opinion articles from various law firms, articles from HR associations, official websites, news releases, and documents of government agencies, and other relevant third-party sources. Vensure has no authority over these external websites and bears no responsibility for their content. Furthermore, Vensure does not endorse the materials present on these websites. The contents of this communication should not be interpreted as legal advice or as a legal standpoint concerning specific facts or scenarios. Nor should it be deemed an exhaustive compilation of facts potentially pertinent to federal, state, or local laws. It is strongly advised that employers solicit legal guidance from an employment attorney when undertaking actions in response to any legal updates provided. This is due to the possibility of future alterations occurring in federal, state, and local laws, regulations, as well as the directives and guidelines issued by governing agencies. These changes may transpire at any given time, potentially rendering certain portions of the content within this update void or inaccurate.

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