My employer is delaying paying me. How often do I need to be paid? Is this illegal?


In Massachusetts, many -- though not all -- employees need to be paid either weekly or biweekly (every other week). Here is a general outline of the rules, as always, for educational purposes only. Feel free to contact me with specifics about your personal situation.

  • Most employees who work five or six days in a calendar week need to be paid either weekly or biweekly within six days from the close of the pay period. M.G.L. c. 149, s. 148. Employers are free to choose the exact days of the pay period. So, if one employer's pay period is Sunday - Saturday, six days from the close of the pay period, when pay would be due, would be the following Friday.

  • Most employees who work seven days in a calendar week, or less than five in a calendar week, need to be paid within seven days from the close of the pay period. M.G.L. c. 149, s. 148. Thus, in this example, if this employer's pay period is Sunday - Saturday, seven days from the close of the pay period, when pay would be due, would be the following Saturday.

  • Employees engaged in agricultural work may be paid monthly. M.G.L. c. 149, s. 148.

  • Employees engaged in a "bona fide executive, administrative or professional capacity as determined by the attorney general" may be paid bi-weekly or semi-monthly (e.g., the 1st and 15th of the month) unless an employee volunteers to be paid monthly. M.G.L. c. 149, s. 148.

  • Employees whose salaries are regularly paid on a weekly basis or at a weekly rate for a work week of substantially the same number of hours from week to week may be paid bi-weekly or semi-monthly unless an employee volunteers to be paid monthly. M.G.L. c. 149, s. 148.

  • Fired? If you are terminated involuntarily, the employer must pay you on the day you're fired. M.G.L. c. 149, s. 148.

  • Quit? If you leave your job voluntarily, the employer is to pay you as normal, on the next regularly scheduled pay day. M.G.L. c. 149, s. 148.

Like many employment questions, this one is very detail-dependent. Add to this that the law in question, the Wage Act, has been described by one former Superior Court judge now on the Supreme Judicial Court as "hardly a model of legislative draftsmanship,” Dobin v. CIOview Corp., No. 2001-00108 (Mass. Super. Oct. 29, 2003) (Gants, J.), and individual questions can require some analysis. Contact me if I can help you with yours.

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