New Hire Paperwork: Massachusetts

New Hire Paperwork 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


Documents to Provide to New Employees

Sexual Harassment Policy

In addition to the paperwork that employers must complete under federal law, all employers in Massachusetts of six or more employees are required to provide new employees with a copy of the employer's sexual harassment policy upon commencement of employment.

Employees are also required to receive the policy on a yearly basis. Employers should also post the policy in a conspicuous area in the workplace. See +ALM GL ch. 151B, § 3A(b)(2).

Domestic Violence Leave Notification

Effective August 8, 2014, Massachusetts employers with 50 or more employees must provide up to 15 days of leave in any 12-month period to employees who are victims of abusive behavior (i.e., domestic violence, staking, sexual assault and kidnapping) or whose family member is a victim of abusive behavior. +ALM GL ch. 149, § 52E. Covered employers must notify each employee of the rights and responsibilities under the law.

Although there is no specified manner by which notification must take place, an employer may notify employees by doing the following:

  • Putting the information in a new employee handbook;
  • Adding the information to an existing employee handbook; or
  • Sending memos, letter or emails to employees.

Employers may also post a notice in a conspicuous place.

For more detailed information regarding this law see Employee Management > Other Leaves: Massachusetts.

All employers regardless of size must provide sick leave, but employers with 11 or more employees must provide paid sick leave. See Other Leaves: Massachusetts. Employees earn one hour of sick leave for every 30 hours they work.

An employer must post a notice of any employee's rights under the law and give a copy of the notice to each employee, or include the employer's sick time policy in an employee handbook or manual. +ALM GL ch. 149, § 148C.

The safe harbor provision for employers that previously offered sick leave expired on December 31, 2015. All employers are not expected to be compliant with the new sick leave law.

Tipped Employees

An employer may pay the service rate to an employee only if:

  • An employer informs the employee in writing of the provisions of +ALM GL ch. 151, § 7, paragraph three;
  • The employee actually receives tips in an amount which, when added to the service rate, equals or exceeds the basic minimum wage; and
  • All tips received by the employee are either retained by him or her or are distributed to him or her through a tip-pooling arrangement.

+454 CMR § 27.03. See Minimum Wage: Massachusetts.

Employee Handbooks

Employers should distribute employee handbooks to employees upon initial hire, and whenever updated. Handbooks should contain a disclaimer in bold typeface, placed in a conspicuous location, explaining that all employment is at-will. Employers also should be careful not to include language in handbooks that could be construed as contractually binding.

Temporary Workers Right to Know Law

Effective January 31, 2013, staffing agencies in Massachusetts shall provide to each employee for a new assignment or employment notice of the following:

  1. The name, address and telephone number of: (i) the staffing agency, or the contact information of the staffing agent facilitating the placement; (ii) its workers compensation carrier; (iii) the worksite employer; and (iv) the department;
  2. A description of the position and whether it shall require any special clothing, equipment, training or licenses and any costs charged to the employee for supplies or training;
  3. The designated pay day, the hourly rate of pay and whether overtime pay may occur;
  4. The daily starting time and anticipated end time and, when known, the expected duration of employment;
  5. Whether any meals shall be provided by the staffing agency or worksite employer and the charge, if any, to the employee; and
  6. Details of the means of transportation to the worksite and any fees charged to the employee by the staffing agency or worksite employer for any transportation services.

See +ALM GL ch. 149, §159C (b).

Staffing agencies are not prohibited from directing an employee to employment by telephone; provided, that the telephone message shall disclose the above information.

However, the information concerning the employee's assignment must be confirmed in writing and sent to the employee, in a method designated by the employee, before the end of the first pay period; provided, however, that any change to the initial terms of employment shall be immediately provided to the employee and the employee shall acknowledge the change in terms.

Further, the staffing agency shall post in a conspicuous place in each of its locations where it does business notice of an employee's rights under this section and the name and telephone number of the department.

Staffing agencies or worksite employers must also be aware that they cannot charge or accept a fee from an employee for the following:

  1. The cost of registration of the staffing agency or the cost of procuring employment;
  2. Any good or service unless under the terms of a written contract with an employee, which clearly states in a language that the employee understands, that the purchase is voluntary and which provides that the staffing agency will not gain a profit from any cost or fee charged to the employee;
  3. The provision of any of the following that exceed the actual cost per applicant or employee: bank card, debit card, payroll card, voucher, draft, money order or similar form of payment or wages, or any drug screen;
  4. A criminal record offender information request;
  5. Transportation. However, if a staffing agency or work site employer offers transportation services to an employee and charges a fee for such services, the staffing agency or work site employer shall charge the employee not more than the actual cost to transport such employee to or from the designated work site. The fee to cover the transportation service costs for each such employee shall not exceed 3 percent of the employee's total daily wages, and must not reduce the employee's total daily wages below the minimum wage earned for the day. If a staffing agency or work site requires the use of such transportation services, no fee shall be charged. Any staffing agency that sends an employee to a worksite employer for employment that day where no employment actually exists shall fully refund the cost of transportation; or
  6. Any good or service the payment of which would cause the employee to earn less than the applicable minimum wage.

Also, staffing agencies or work site employers cannot deduct any costs or fees from the wages of an employee without the express written authorization of the employee. A staffing agency or work site employer must furnish to the employee a copy of the signed authorization in a language that the employee can understand.

See +ALM GL ch. 149, §159C (c) (d).

Further staffing agencies cannot do the following:

  1. Knowingly issue, distribute, circulate or provide any false, fraudulent or misleading information, representation, promise, notice or advertisement to any applicant or employee;
  2. Use any name that has not been registered with the department;
  3. Assign or place an employee in employment by force or fraud, for illegal purposes, or where the employment is in violation of state or federal laws governing minimum wage, child labor, compulsory school attendance, required licensure or certification, or at any location that is on strike or lockout without notifying the employee of this fact;
  4. Refuse to return on demand any personal property belonging to an employee or any fee or cost that is charged or accepted by a staffing agency or worksite employer in excess of the amounts allowable.

See +ALM GL ch. 149, §159C (e).

The notice requirement does not apply to professional employees as defined by the Fair Labor Standards Act and secretaries or administrative assistants with certain duties.

Workers' Compensation Notice

Every employer that has obtained workers' compensation coverage for its employees by an insurer, or is a self-insurer must provide a written or printed notice to every person with whom it is about to enter into a contract of hire that it has provided for payment to injured employees by the insurer or by means of self-insurance. +ALM GL ch. 152, § 22.

Domestic Workers Notice

An employer that employs domestic workers for household services must provide its employees with notice of all state and federal laws applicable to domestic workers. +ALM GL ch. 149 § 190(m).

Documents to Obtain from New Employees

Similar to federal withholding documentation, Massachusetts requires new employees to complete The Massachusetts Employee Withholding form, M-4.

Future Developments

Effective April 1, 2018, Massachusetts Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (MPWFA), will prohibit workplace and hiring discrimination related to pregnancy and nursing, and will require employers to provide reasonable accommodations for expectant and new mothers in the workplace. This law will apply to an employer with six or more employees. For detailed information regarding this law see EEO - Discrimination: Massachusetts.

Under the law, an employer will be required to provide its employees with written notice of the right to be free from discrimination related to pregnancy or a pregnancy-related condition, including lactation or the need to express breast milk for a nursing child, and the right to reasonable accommodations. Employers will be required to provide notice in a handbook, pamphlet or by other means:

  • To current employees by April 1, 2018;
  • To new employees at or prior to the beginning of employment; and
  • Within 10 days after an employee discloses her pregnancy or pregnancy-related condition.

+2017 Bill Text MA H.B. 3680.

Additional Resources

Recruiting and Hiring > New Hire Paperwork

The Massachusetts Department of Revenue