In parts 1 and 2 of our series on the new minimum wage regulations issued by the Massachusetts Department of Labor earlier this year, we discussed changes to regulations regarding employee uniforms and employer notice and recordkeeping requirements. Now we turn to changes regarding employer deductions for lodging and meals.
Previously, an employer that provided lodging for an employee could deduct from the employee’s minimum wage up to $35.00 per week for a room occupied by one person; $30.00 per week for a room occupied by two persons; or $25.00 per week for a room occupied by three or more persons. The deduction could only be made if the room was actually used by the employee and the lodging was adequate, decent and sanitary, with heat, potable water and light.
The new regulation still permits deductions for lodging at the same rates if the housing is safe, sanitary, and meets standard housing requirements. However, the deduction can only be made if the employee voluntarily accepts and uses the room, the employer has given written notice to the employee describing the lodging and providing notice that the employee’s acceptance of the lodging is voluntary, and the employee has provided voluntary written acceptance of the lodging and deductions for the lodging.
For employers who provide meals to employees, employers are able to make minimum wage deductions in the following amounts, or the actual cost to the employer of the meal, whichever is smaller: $1.50 for breakfast; $2.25 for lunch; and $2.25 for dinner. Previously, an employer needed only written consent by the employee to make the deductions, but under the new regulation, deductions are allowed only if all of the following conditions are met:
- the employee voluntarily accepts and actually receives the meal;
- the employer has given the employee written notice describing the meal plan, setting forth the amount to be charged, and providing notice that the employee’s acceptance is voluntary; and
- the employee has provided voluntary written acceptance of the meals and deductions.
Employers who have made adjustments to employees’ wages based on lodging and meals should review their practices to ensure compliance with these new regulations.