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It is well known that the matrix product state (MPS) description of a gapped ground state with a global on-site symmetry can exhibit "symmetry fractionalization." Namely, even though the symmetry acts as a linear representation on the physical degrees of freedom, the MPS matrices - which act on some virtual degrees of freedom - can transform under a projective representation. This was instrumental in classifying gapped symmetry-protected phases that manifest in one-dimensional (1D) quantum many-body systems. Here we consider the multiscale entanglement renormalization ansatz (MERA) description of 1D ground states that have global on-site symmetries. We show that, in contrast to the MPS, the symmetry does not fractionalize in the MERA description if the ground state is gapped, assuming that the MERA preserves the symmetry at all length scales. However, it is still possible that the symmetry can fractionalize in the MERA if the ground state is critical, which may be relevant for characterizing critical symmetry-protected phases. Our results also motivate the presumed use of symmetric tensors to implement global on-site symmetries in MERA algorithms.