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Massachusetts Updates Premium Pay Under Blue Laws

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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 and the HR Support Center Massachusetts holidays laws page.




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