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HR 101: Happy New Year!

New for 2019

Wage and leave laws saw changes that begin right away!

The so called “Grand Bargain bill” was signed into law and Massachusetts minimum wage increased to $12 per hour for regular employees and $4.35 per hour for tipped employees, effective January 1st.

Retail employees who work on Sundays and holidays will begin to see a reduction in premium pay (also effective January 1st) to 1.4 times their hourly rate. It will be phased out over the next four years to 2023, when it will be 1 time their hourly rate.

A new payroll tax begins this year, July 1st at .63%, to be split between employers and employees to fund the paid sick leave system for Massachusetts that was approved to begin in 2021. With this law employees will be eligible for paid sick leave in 2021.

2018 in Review

Pregnant Workers Fairness Act was effective this past spring, protecting the rights of both pregnant job applicants and employees. Key aspects of the law include:

  • requiring employers to actively communicate with employees for reasonable accommodations to perform essential job functions,

  • limiting medical documentation for accommodations,

  • allowing for accommodations for pregnancy related conditions (i. e., expressing breast milk to nurse),

  • informing employees of their rights,

  • prohibiting retaliation against applicants and workers who exercise their rights under the law.

Equal Pay Act was effective this past summer to better ensure both female and male employees are paid the same for comparable work. Key aspects of the law include:

  • allowing differences in pay only for demonstrated reasons (seniority, geographic location, sales based, job related differences in education, training or experience, a merit system or job required differences in travel),

  • prohibiting inquiries about salary history during the hiring process and using salary history as a reason for denying an applicant consideration,

  • allowing employees to discuss their pay,

  • prohibiting retaliation against applicants/employees exercising their rights under the law.

A Non-Compete law was enacted this past fall, beginning Oct 1st, which revised existing law and implemented new requirements for non-competes in Massachusetts. The law defines :

  • which employees can and can not be subject to non-competes,

  • notification requirements,

  • garden leave (or other mutual consideration requirements),

  • limitations on duration and geographic scope.

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