Massachusetts Laws Governing Final Pay

The basic rule regarding final pay in Massachusetts is this:

1) An employee who is terminated involuntarily must be paid in full on the day of discharge.
2) An employee who quits a job can be paid on the next regular pay date after his or her departure.

The text of the law is, “any employee discharged from such employment shall be paid in full on the day of his discharge.” M.G.L. c. 149, § 148. And the rule includes any earned vacation pay due “under an oral or written agreement” and any commission that is “definitely determined and has become due and payable.”

The rule does not apply if the employee is absent from the job site when fired. In that case, the statute states that the employee “shall be paid thereafter on demand.”

If you are terminated from a job and not paid in full the same day, it is a good idea to leave with some written evidence that you were fired and didn’t quit. This is not always possible. If you can’t get a written acknowledgment of your termination, you should at least make note of any witnesses to the fact that you were fired and didn’t quit.

If you are called or emailed while at home or otherwise away from the job site and terminated, it is smart to respond in writing (an email is fine) and ask for your final pay, confirming your address or stating that you will go to the work site to get the pay. If your employer then fails to pay you or delays, you would have a claim for treble damages.

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