Employment and Labor Laws

Massachusetts

Massachusetts State Holidays

The State of Massachusetts has designated several days each calendar year as state holidays. The implications of these state holidays on public employers and private employers is discussed below.

The following list contains the state holidays recognized by Massachusetts.

  • New Year’s Day (January 1)
  • Martin Luther King Jr. Day (3rd Monday in January)
  • Presidents’ Day (3rd Monday in February)
  • Evacuation Day (March 17 – Suffolk County Only)
  • Patriot’s Day (3rd Monday in April)
  • Memorial Day (last Monday in May)
  • Bunker Hill Day (June 17 – Suffolk County Only)
  • Juneteenth Independence Day (June 19)
  • Independence Day (July 4)
  • Labor Day (1st Monday in September)
  • Columbus Day (2nd Monday in October)
  • Veterans Day (November 11)
  • Thanksgiving Day (Fourth Thursday in November)
  • Christmas Day (December 25)

If a holiday falls on a Sunday, it is observed on the following Monday. MA Statute 4-7(18)

Click here for a list of federal holidays.


Public employers

Public offices must be closed on all legal holidays listed above, except only public offices in Suffolk county may be closed on Evacuation Day and Bunder Hill Day. MA Statute 136-12

If a state employee is required to work on a legal holiday they must be given an additional day off or, if the additional day of leave may not be taken, the employee must be paid for an additional day. Additionally, if a state employee’s regular day off falls on a holiday, the employee must be given an additional day off or, if the additional day of leave may not be taken, the employee must be paid for an additional day. When an employee’s regular day off is Saturday and a holiday falls on that day, the employee should be given the previous Friday as a day off, where possible. If the employee cannot take the previous Friday off, they must be given another day off or, if the additional day of leave may not be taken, the employee must be paid for an additional day. MA Statute 30-24A


Private employers

Massachusetts is one of the few states that require private employers to give employees holiday leave. The laws, known as Massachusetts’ Blue Laws, differentiate between retailers, non-retailers, and manufacturers. Those differences are discussed below. MA Statute 136; Mass. Blue Laws Overview.

Retail

Holidays on which work can be performed only with a permit:

  • Christmas
  • Columbus Day before 12:00 p.m.
  • Thanksgiving
  • Veteran’s Day before 1:00 p.m.

Retailers with more than seven (7) employees must pay premium pay on the following holidays as follows, although they are not required to obtain a permit:

  • New Year’s Day
  • Columbus Day before 12:00 p.m.
  • Veteran’s Day before 1:00 p.m.
    • 1.5 times the hourly rate
  • Memorial Day
  • Juneteenth Independence Day
  • Independence Day
  • Labor Day
    • January 1, 2021 – 1.2 times the hourly rate
    • January 1, 2022 – 1.1 times the hourly rate
    • January 1, 2023 – 1.0 times the hourly rate

Holidays on which work can be performed without limitations:

  • Martin Luther King Day
  • Patriots’ Day
  • President’s Day
  • Bunker Hill Day
  • Evacuation Day

Non-Retail

Holidays on which work can be performed only with a permit (If the permit is acquired an employee can be required to work and is only entitled to regular pay unless standard overtime or Sunday Blue Laws apply):

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

Holidays on which work can be performed without limitation:

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

Manufacturing

The non-retail holiday requirements generally apply to manufacturing. However, although manufacturers may lawfully stay open on legal holidays with the proper permits, employees cannot be required to work on those days, but instead must be given the option to work or not, except in very limited circumstances where the work being performed:

  • is absolutely necessary and
  • the enterprise requires continuous operation. Otherwise work must be voluntary.

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