Massachusetts updates premium pay under blue laws

Massachusetts has made several revisions to its “blue laws” that require most employers that are retailers to pay premium pay for work on certain holidays. First, the Commonwealth has designated Juneteenth Independence Day, June 19, as a legal holiday. Second, the gradual phase-out of premium pay now applies to all holidays that require premium pay. When the legislature originally crafted the phase-out, it forgot to include New Year’s Day, Columbus Day, and Veterans Day; it has now corrected that omission.

Holidays That Require Premium Pay

Employers that are retailers of any size are required to pay premium pay for the hours worked on the following holidays:

  • New Year’s Day
  • Columbus Day after 12:00 noon
  • Veterans Day after 1:00 p.m.

Employers that are retailers and have eight or more employees (including the owner) are also required to pay premium pay on the following holidays:

  • Memorial Day
  • Juneteenth Independence Day
  • Independence Day
  • Labor Day

If New Year’s, Juneteenth, Independence Day, or Veterans Day is on Sunday, then premium pay also applies to hours worked on the following Monday.

Rate of Premium Pay

For the remainder of 2021, the premium pay rate is 1.2 times the employee’s regular rate. (The higher rate of 1.5 times applied to New Year’s Day this year because the legislature didn’t fix its mistake until after January 1, 2021.) For 2022, the premium pay rate will be 1.1 times the employee’s regular rate. As of January 1, 2023, retailers no longer have to pay premium pay for work on holidays.

Additional details are available on the Massachusetts Attorney General’s blue laws guide here.

SOURCE: HR Support Center

Disclaimer: The information contained herein is not intended to be construed as legal advice, nor should it be relied on as such. Employers should closely monitor the rules and regulations specific to their jurisdiction(s) and should seek advice from counsel relative to their rights and responsibilities.

By Megan Butz
General Counsel, HR Compliance, Checkwriters
Megan joined Checkwriters in 2020 and is responsible for reviewing, revising, and implementing internal policies of the company, advising on human resource, employment, and labor matters, and monitoring and publishing state and federal legal updates to the Checkwriters News and Compliance Center for distribution to thousands of clients around the country. Before joining Checkwriters, Megan served as a judicial law clerk for the justices of the Massachusetts Probate and Family Court performing legal research and writing, followed by private practice in Cape Cod.

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