Sunday Pay and Holiday Pay Will Be Eradicated By 2023 in Massachusetts

Author: Steven O'Brien

Guest Editor: Grace Shuman

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February 7, 2022 12:26pm

Employers must stay apprised as to changes regarding their obligations to employees. Massachusetts has unique laws regarding Sunday and holiday premium pay, but those laws are changing. Employers should review upcoming changes and determine whether they will be impacted by them moving forward.

 

Blue Laws

Over the years, the rate of pay on Sundays and holidays – which are “premium pay” periods – has evolved. In 2018, the premium pay rate was 1.5x the regular rate for both Sunday and holiday work, however, that amount has decreased significantly and is set to be phased out by 2023.In

Massachusetts, pay on Sundays and holidays is governed by Massachusetts Blue Laws. These laws control the hours of operation for certain types of businesses and require some businesses to pay employees extra, (known as ‘premium pay’) on Sundays and some legal holidays.

The slow decrease in the premium pay amount stems from a 2018 “Grand Bargain” bill signed into law by Governor Charlie Barker. Each decrease in premium pay multipliers was accompanied with a raise in state minimum wage. The gradual increases will peak in 2023, which is when premium pay rates will be eliminated.

 

Retail

This year, the premium pay multipliers have been reduced to 1.1x the regular rate. Starting next year, Sundays and holidays will be paid at the regular rate. Some holidays are excluded from the 1.1x rate this year with pay set at the regular rate. These holidays are President’s Day, Evacuation Day, Martin Luther King Day, Bunker Hill Day, and Patriots’ Day.

 

Non-Retail and Manufacturers: Sundays

The laws vary based on the type of business as well. Generally, Massachusetts recognizes three different categories of businesses in this situation: retail, non-retail, and manufacturing.

While the laws mentioned above are straightforward with regard to retail businesses, there are additional factors to consider with non-retail businesses and manufacturers. Non-retail businesses may not operate on Sundays, unless they fall within one of the exemptions. In addition, for all businesses, a permit for work on Sundays may be issued by the police chief of the city or town where the business is located.”

Like non-retail businesses, manufacturers are generally prohibited from opening for business on Sundays without a permit. However, manufacturers may petition the Attorney General for a temporary exemption from the Day of Rest Laws.”

 

Non-Retail and Manufacturers: Holidays

According to the state’s website, most types of non-retail businesses may operate on the following legal holidays, without a permit or restrictions:
• New Year’s Day
• Martin Luther King Day
• President’s Day
• Evacuation Day
• Patriots’ Day
• Bunker Hill Day
• Juneteenth Independence Day
• Columbus Day after 12:00 p.m.
• Veterans Day after 1:00 p.m.

For manufacturers, the state not only enumerates which holidays are not part of the exemption but also specifies which holidays must be restricted:
Manufacturers may operate without a permit and premium pay requirements for work performed do not apply to the following:

• New Year’s Day
• Martin Luther King Day
• President’s Day
• Evacuation Day
• Patriots’ Day
• Bunker Hill Day
• Juneteenth Independence Day
• Columbus Day after 12:00 p.m.
• Veterans Day after 1:00 p.m.

Restricted Holidays:
Unless granted a permit by the local police, manufacturers are generally prohibited from operating on the following legal holidays:

• Memorial Day
• Independence Day
• Labor Day
• Columbus Day before 12:00 noon
• Veterans Day before 1:00 p.m.
• Thanksgiving Day
• Christmas Day

Although manufacturers may lawfully operate on legal holidays (assuming permits are obtained when necessary), employees cannot be required to work on those days. The law provides a very limited exception when manufacturers can require work on holidays: when work is both 1) “absolutely necessary” and 2) “can lawfully be performed on Sunday.”

 

Takeaway

The new pay rate will benefit employers who need employees to work in their businesses on weekends and holidays. Going forward, employers should be mindful of the phase out by next year. Different types of employers must follow different rules regarding Sundays and holidays, so it is important to stay apprised of the changes to ensure compliance. The state of Massachusetts’ website provides information about these laws and can provide a more thorough review of the changes that have passed and those still to come.


 

 

 

[1] Office of Attorney General Maura Healey, Working on Sundays and Holidays (“Blue Laws”), Mass.gov, (last accessed Jan. 21, 2022 at 10:54 a.m.), https://www.mass.gov/guides/working-on-sundays-and-holidays-blue-laws.

[1] Id.

[1] Id.

[1] Office of Governor Charlie Baker and Lt. Governor Karyn Polito, Governor Baker Signs Grand Bargain Legislation, Mass.gov, (June 28, 2018), https://www.mass.gov/news/governor-baker-signs-grand-bargain-legislation.

[1] Id.

[1] Governor Baker Signs Grand Bargain Legislation; Working on Sundays and Holidays (“Blue Laws”).

[1] Working on Sundays and Holidays (“Blue Laws”).

[1] Id.

[1] Id.

[1] Id.

[1] Id.

[1] Id.

[1] Id.

[1] Id.

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