AG Healey issues advisory on minimum wage increase, information to be available in 14 languages

Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey. (Image courtesy of the Attorney General’s office.)

Attorney General Maura Healey is reminding the public and employers in Massachusetts about the increase in the minimum wage that is set to go into effect on Jan. 1, 2017. The AG’s Office has updated its wage and hour poster that employers are required to display. It will be available in 14 languages and in formats that employers, workers, members of the public, and organizations can access.

“We are advising people about the minimum wage increase so that employers are aware of their obligations under the law and so that workers know their rights,” AG Healey said. “Through education, outreach, and enforcement actions where appropriate, we will continue our work to protect the economic security of Massachusetts workers and their families.”

In July 2014, the Legislature passed the first increase to the minimum wage since 2008. Pursuant to that legislation, effective Jan. 1, the minimum wage will increase to $11 per hour.

Also effective Jan. 1, tipped employees (those who receive more than $20 a month in tips) must be paid a minimum of $3.75 per hour, provided that, with tips, the employee receives at least $11 per hour. If the total hourly rate for the employee, including tips, does not equal $11, then the employer must make up the difference.

Hard copies of the AG’s Wage and Hour poster will be available in Chinese, English, Haitian Creole, Khmer, Portuguese, Spanish, and Vietnamese. To request a copy, please visit www.mass.gov/ago/fldposter or call (617) 963-2250. Additionally, the following languages will be available to print on the AG’s website: Arabic, Cape Verdean Creole, Chinese, English, French, Haitian Creole, Italian, Khmer, Korean, Lao, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, and Vietnamese.

The Attorney General’s Fair Labor Division enforces laws that protect workers, including minimum wage, payment of wages, overtime, tip pooling, child labor, Sunday and holiday premium pay, and the public construction bid laws.

The Division has broad powers to investigate violations and enforce these laws through criminal and civil actions. The Division protects employees from exploitation, prosecutes employers who are failing to follow state wage and hour laws, and sets a level playing field for law-abiding employers. The AG’s Office ensures that strong economic growth and fairness for workers go hand-in-hand.

In September, AG Healey issued the first-ever Labor Day Report on her office’s efforts to combat and prevent wage theft. The report shows that in fiscal year 2016 alone, the office recovered $3.8 million in restitution and penalties on behalf of working people in Massachusetts.

To increase resources available to victims of wage theft, the AG’s Office is working with community partners, law schools, and private bar attorneys to host free monthly wage theft clinics at Suffolk Law School. These clinics are part of an effort to address wage theft and worker exploitation among vulnerable populations, including low wage and immigrant workers in the state. The goal of the clinics is to help workers get the wages and benefits they deserve. More than 70 workers have attended the first three clinics and received assistance with a range of wage theft issues. The next clinic is scheduled for Jan. 30, 2017. For more information on these clinics, please click here.

The AG’s Office has also revamped its workplace rights website with a new design and innovative features, including searchable public data and content in various languages. The new easy-to-navigate website allows workers to better understand their rights and for employers, their obligations under state law.
Workers who believe that their rights have been violated in their workplace can also call the office’s Fair Labor Hotline at (617) 727-3465. More information about the state’s wage and hour laws is also available in multiple languages at www.mass.gov/ago/fairlabor.
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