Legislature Passes “Grand Bargain” on Ballot Question Issues: Minimum Wage, Family and Medical Leave, and Sales Tax Holiday

BOSTON – On Wednesday, June 20, the Massachusetts House of Representatives and State Senate passed legislation to raise the minimum wage over a period of five years, create a framework for paid family and medical leave for most workers, phase out time-and-a-half pay on Sundays, and establish a permanent sales tax holiday.

The legislation is based on months of negotiations with stakeholders sponsoring proposed ballot questions for the November 2018 election.

“This compromise strikes the right balance of empowering employees, supporting our hardworking residents and ensuring that businesses can continue to provide good, steady jobs,” said House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo (D-Winthrop). “I sincerely thank the stakeholders who came to the table and the legislators who brokered this compromise.”

“I voted for this legislation to support working families by raising the minimum wage and providing paid family and medical leave,” said Representative Benson. “These have been policy goals for a long time, and I’m glad we were able to come together and get them passed.”

The bill (H.4640) passed by the Legislature does the following:

  • Increases the minimum wage to $15.00 over the next five years;
  • Increases the tipped wage to $6.75 over the next five years;
  • Establishes a Department of Family and Medical Leave within the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development;
  • Creates a framework for family leave of 12 weeks; family leave for the care of a service member of 26 weeks; and medical leave for up to 20 weeks;
  • Creates a permanent sales tax holiday beginning in 2019; and
  • Phases out premium pay on Sundays and holidays over the next five years.

The proposal leaves the sales tax unchanged, and does not impose a teen sub-minimum wage. Small businesses are exempted from contributing to the paid family and medical leave fund.