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Mandatory, unpaid training time Massachusetts

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  • Mandatory, unpaid training time Massachusetts

    New here, sorry if this topic has been covered before, i haven't found it.

    My 18 yo daughter just started a new job at a coffee shop. The job consists of making and serving drinks, making and serving sandwiches, acting as cashier, opening/closing, and some cleaning duties.

    The job pays $8.00/hour (minimum wage in MA is $9.00), and this role shares in tips from the tip jar, but no direct tipping. Average tips amount to about $2/hour (so average pay is greater than min wage)

    The issue is that the boss requires each new hire to work 24 hours of unpaid training time, before getting paid by the hour. The training is actual 'on the job' training, meaning performing the same work as the other employees - making actual sandwiches and drinks for customers, operating the cash register, cleaning floors, etc. I believe that the owner may overstaff during training (ie. have 4 people working instead of the usual 3), but all 4 are performing actual work. The trainee is not simply observing.

    Seems to me that the owner is getting full benefit of the labor (revenue) and the actual 'training' time is very short.

    Do my daughter, and all the other kids working there, have a valid claim to get paid for this time?

    thanks for you thoughts on this

  • #2
    The bottom line to both the issue of the unpaid training and the $8.00 per hour pay is the same.

    If, at the end of the week, the combination of pay and tips comes to a minimum of $9.00 per hour or more in gross pay, that is legal. If it comes to less, the employer is required by MA law to make up the difference.
    The above answer, whatever it is, assumes that no legally binding and enforceable contract or CBA says otherwise. If it does, then the terms of the contract or CBA apply.


    • #3
      thank you for the info

      that confirms what i thought. would the best first step be a written complaint/request to be paid for the time send to the employer? or, since this is a longstanding practice, would a complaint to the attny general's office be more appropriate?


      • #4
        There is no one right way to handle this. Is this a chain? If so there should be a regional or corporate office she could report this to if the owner is unwilling to yield. If this is a small mom and pop operation, and the owner is unwilling to change, she can report it to the AG's office
        I post with the full knowledge and support of my employer, though the opinions rendered are my own and not necessarily representative of their position. In other words, I'm a free agent.


        • #5
          I'm not sure you're quite following what I'm saying.

          MA does not look at hour-by-hour; they look at the entire paycheck. Let's say, for the sake of argument, that she worked 4 hours of unpaid training time, then 20 hours at $8 and $60 in tips. Under MA law, she is due $9 per hour for 24 hours, or, $216. She has been paid $220 (20 hours at $8 = 160, +$60 = $220). Since she was paid more than $216, under MA law she has been paid correctly.

          It's not as simple as, the employer says this is unpaid time; therefore it's a violation. IF she makes enough in the rest of the week to cover the allegedly unpaid time with minimum wage or more (that's the state minimum wage, since it's higher) then MA isn't going to care. In fact, off the top of my head, the only state that is going to care may well be CA.

          If she DOESN'T make enough, including tips, and the employer refuses to make it good, then she has a valid wage complaint to take to the AG's office. Please note that this is SHE, not you. She may well want to consider how much she is losing, whether it is or is not going to be ongoing, and how many waves she wants to make in a still-not-that-great economy. If SHE wants to take it on, great, more power to her, I'm definitely not saying she shouldn't. But IF we are talking a limited time for a limited amount, there are other factors she should be prepared to look at, as well.
          The above answer, whatever it is, assumes that no legally binding and enforceable contract or CBA says otherwise. If it does, then the terms of the contract or CBA apply.


          • #6

            I think i understand what you're saying. The issue here is that in the course of her first two weeks on the job, she worked a total of 24 hours, and was paid zero. Her third week she worked something like 5 hours and was paid 8/hr plus tips, averaging a little over 9/hr.

            The issue is that the owner of this shop expected my daughter to work (not just observe) for 24 hours, for no pay, at considerable benefit to the owner. Now, my daughter is getting hardly any hours to work, and has actually had to go find another job (which she was able to do). It seems like the owner of the first place has a habit of having kids work for free, the placing them on some kind of "on call" list, to fill in when needed. Seems the owner is taking advantage of free labor, then has the additional benefit of trained personnel available to call on.

            Yes, this is HER issue, not mine. But I'm looking out for her, she thinks this is just the way things work. I'd actually like to see all the kids that have worked there get paid for their training time.

            I don't think she's too concerned about burning a bridge with this mom and pop store. She already has a better job, and she and her cohorts shouldn't let the shop owner get away with ripping off kids. that's my thought anyway.


            • #7
              And I want to see everyone paid properly too. I am definitely not saying she shouldn't address the question. Just that she needs to consider things like future references and so on.
              The above answer, whatever it is, assumes that no legally binding and enforceable contract or CBA says otherwise. If it does, then the terms of the contract or CBA apply.