Massachusetts Legislature Announces Comprehensive Proposal on Sales Tax Holiday, Minimum Wage, and Family and Medical Leave

BOSTON – The Massachusetts House of Representatives and the Massachusetts State Senate announced today a legislative proposal to raise the minimum wage; create a framework for paid family and medical leave for most workers; 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. It is scheduled to come to the House and Senate floors on Wednesday.
“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. “I sincerely thank the stakeholders who came to the table and the legislators who brokered this compromise.”
“This compromise is designed to benefit working families, support businesses throughout the Commonwealth, and grow our economy,” said Senate President Harriette L. Chandler. “I commend the work done by the stakeholders and legislators through this process.”
Among other initiatives, this legislative proposal does the following:
  • Creates a permanent sales tax holiday, beginning in 2019;
  • Increases the minimum wage to $15.00 over the next five years;
  • Increases the tip wage to $6.75 over the next five years;
  • Gradually phases out premium pay on Sundays and holidays;
  • 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; and
  • Exempts small businesses from financial contribution to the paid family and medical leave fund
The proposal leaves the sales tax unchanged, and does not impose a teen sub-minimum wage.
“I’m pleased that this compromise will lift up working families in the Commonwealth, with a $15 minimum wage and a strong paid family and medical leave program, said Senator Jason Lewis, Senate Chair of the Committee on Labor and Workforce Development. “At the same time, the legislation balances the concerns of employers, particularly small businesses that form the backbone of our Main Streets. I greatly appreciate the hard work and spirit of collaboration that all the stakeholders have exhibited through this process.”
“I am pleased to put forward this bill which empowers workers, recognizes the needs of business owners, and ensures that Massachusetts residents will no longer have to choose between caring for a sick relative or losing their job,” said Representative Paul Brodeur, House Chair of the Committee on Labor and Workforce Development. “This bill is the result of months of negotiations and demonstrates that regardless of what happens in Washington, here in Massachusetts we focus on cooperation and compromise.”