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Employee Handbooks - Work Rules - Employee Conduct: Massachusetts

Employee Handbooks - Work Rules - Employee Conduct requirements for other states

Federal law and guidance on this subject should be reviewed together with this section.

Authors: Lisa Stephanian Burton and Peter J. Mee, Morgan Lewis & Bockius LLP

Summary

  • Massachusetts is an employment at-will state. Provided there is no contract, express or implied, Massachusetts recognizes two common law exceptions to the at-will doctrine. Specifically, terminations in violation of public policy and the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing. See At-Will Nature of Employment.
  • Employers can generally regulate employee conduct outside the workplace as Massachusetts has no statutory provision addressing this issue. However, employers should be mindful of antidiscrimination and privacy laws when crafting any polices regulating outside conduct. See Employee Personal Activities Outside of Work.
  • Smoking in the workplace is forbidden in Massachusetts. See Smoking in the Workplace.
  • Massachusetts courts permit employee drug testing in limited circumstances. See Drug Testing.
  • Massachusetts employers may establish dress codes for employees so long as they do not violate any of the state's laws prohibiting discrimination. See Dress Codes.
  • Employers must pay employees for at least three hours of work, regardless of shift duration. Employees who work more than six hours must receive a thirty minute break. Massachusetts law requires employers to provide employees with one day of rest in seven. Massachusetts' Blue Laws require that many nonexempt employees receive time and one half pay for any hours worked on Sundays. See Employee Work Schedules and Attendance.
  • Massachusetts employers must present new employees with a copy of the employer's sexual harassment policy upon commencement of employment and provide all employees with an individual written copy of the policy on a yearly basis. Employers should also post the policy in a conspicuous area in the workplace. See Sexual Harassment Policy Requirements.