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What Is a Legal Holiday in Massachusetts?

Wage and Hour Tip of the Month - December 2012

Legal holidays in Massachusetts include:

  • New Year’s Day
  • Independence Day
  • Veteran’s Day
  • Christmas Day
  • Martin Luther King Day
  • President’s Day
  • Patriot’s Day
  • Memorial Day
  • Labor Day
  • Columbus Day
  • Thanksgiving Day
  • or the day after any of these holidays if it occurs on a Sunday.

Suffolk County also celebrates the additional legal holidays of:

  • Evacuation Day (March 17th)
  • Bunker Hill Day (June 17th)
  • or the day after if either holiday falls on a Sunday.

However, state and municipal agencies, authorities, and quasi-public entities located in Suffolk County must remain open for business on Evacuation Day and Bunker Hill Day.

How Does Massachusetts Treat Legal Holidays?

Massachusetts law specifies the kind of work that is permitted on a holiday, and the type of establishment which can operate on a holiday. Generally, employers cannot operate on any legal holiday except New Year’s Day, Martin Luther King Day, President’s Day, Evacuation Day, Patriots Day, Bunker Hill Day, Columbus Day after 12 noon or Veterans Day after 1 p.m. However, employers may be able to operate on an otherwise restricted holiday if they come within one of the 55 statutorily proscribed exemptions.

Further, under Massachusetts law, specific rules apply to specific industries. For example despite the general rule, retail establishments can operate on Memorial Day, Independence Day and Labor Day (but on those holidays a retail establishment with more than seven employees has to pay time and a half and cannot require an employee to work on the holiday). And if a retail establishment operates on New Year’s Day, Columbus Day after 12 noon or Veteran’s Day after 1 p.m., regardless of how many employees it has, it must pay time and a half, and an employer cannot require an employee to work on those holidays.

Permits are available in certain circumstances to allow employers to operate on holidays on which they are otherwise not permitted to do so.

For more information on this or other employment law topics, please contact a member of the Employment Law Group.

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