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Payment of Wages: Massachusetts

Payment of Wages requirements for other states

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

Author: Vicki M. Lambert, The Payroll Advisor


  • The term wages includes any holiday or vacation payments due an employee under an oral or written agreement. See Definition of Wages.
  • Massachusetts employers are required to pay wages by cash, or by check redeemable at face value without discount or deduction. Penalties are imposed for violations. See Wage Payment Methods.
  • Different pay frequency rules apply to nonexempt and exempt employees. However, all employees must be paid within either six or seven days after the end of the pay period, depending upon how many days they worked during the week. Penalties are imposed for violations of the pay frequency rules. See Pay Frequency.
  • Employers are prohibited from making deductions from employees' wages unless they are specifically permitted by law. Additional rules apply to employers that require employees to wear uniforms and to staffing agencies and worksite employers. All private Massachusetts employers and covered business entities that hire certain independent contractors are required to make pay deductions to cover contributions to fund Paid Family and Medical Leave benefits. Penalties are imposed for noncompliance. See Permitted and Prohibited Wage Deductions.
  • With each payment of wages, employers are required to provide employees with a pay statement showing basic wage related information, including a detailed list of any deductions made. Additional requirements apply to railroad employees. Penalties are imposed for noncompliance. See Pay Statement Requirements.
  • The timing of payment of final wages upon an employee's termination depends on whether the termination is voluntary or involuntary. Earned commissions that have been definitely determined and are due and payable to an employee are considered part of the employee's final wages. Employers that choose to provide paid vacation to their employees must include unused, earned vacation in final pay. Payment of accrued sick leave on termination is optional. Penalties are imposed for noncompliance. See Final Pay.
  • After the death of an employee, employers must follow a specific set of rules in order to properly turn over any compensation owed to the deceased employee's estate. See Deceased Employee Wages.
  • Unclaimed wages are considered abandoned property if unclaimed for three years as of June 30 of the reporting year. Employers are required to file an annual report stating whether any employee property is unclaimed. Due diligence notices must also be sent to employees with unclaimed wages. Penalties are imposed for noncompliance. See Unclaimed Wages.
  • Somerville has laws pertaining to payment of wages. See Local Requirements.