Unpaid Wages for “Off-the-clock” Work in Massachusetts

Short Answer:Generally, you must be paid/compensated for every hour that you’re actually working for your employer. When an employer fails to pay you for every hour, by doing any of the following: deleting hours, forcing you to work after punching out, forcing you to work through lunch breaks, or requiring you to punch out even though your job duties necessitate more work that day – you are entitled to three times the unpaid wages plus a reasonable attorney’s fee award.

Long Answer:Blatant violations of the Wage Act occur when your employer fails to pay you for time that’s clearly working time. For example, if your employer explicitly decides to pay you for 40-hours per week, regardless of your actual time spent working in excess of 40 hours, and not a dollar more, that payment policy would be a Wage Act violation. You cannot lawfully be terminated for having an attorney send a demand letter to your employer, or even for filing litigation to recoup the unpaid wages.

If you are experiencing any of the following, please contact our office for a free initial consultation:

  • you are required to perform certain tasks prior to punching in, such as loading a truck, collecting equipment, preparing supplies, etc…
  • you are required to perform certain tasks after punching out, such as finishing up paperwork, cleaning the job site, unloading supplies, etc…
  • you are forced to work through lunch or other meal breaks
  • your employer does not accurately track your hours worked, or has no system for tracking actual hours worked
  • your employer changes time sheets, or deletes actual hours worked
  • you are directed to punch out at a designated time, but your job duties require you to stay and complete work
  • you are required to be “on-call,” and not paid during that time

More subtle scenarios are generally governed by a regulation in 455 Code Mass. Regs. § 2.01 which defines working time as “…all time during which an employee is required to be on the employer’s premises or to be on duty, or to be at the prescribed work site, and any time worked before or beyond the end of the normal shift to complete the work.”