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e-Alert – Massachusetts Reduces Premium Pay for Sunday/Holiday Retail Work

By March 5, 2019March 13th, 2019No Comments


The “Grand Bargain” legislation, signed into Massachusetts law on June 28, 2018, is gradually eliminating the time-and-a-half pay requirement for Sundays and some holidays in certain retail establishments. This phaseout began on January 1, 2019, adding extra challenges when calculating overtime under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and Massachusetts overtime law.

What employers need to know

The “premium rate” (i.e., extra compensation) for Sundays and holidays for certain retail businesses was previously set at 1.5 times their regular rate of pay. This “premium” rate decreased to 1.4 times the regular rate on January 1, 2019 and will continue to decrease to 1.3 times the regular rate on January 1, 2020, and so on until it is eliminated completely on January 1, 2023 (see chart below). Only certain holidays are affected by this phaseout, including Memorial Day, Labor Day, and Independence Day. The new law does not eliminate premium pay for New Year’s Day, Veterans Day, and Columbus Day.


Effective Sundays and Memorial Day, Labor Day, Independence Day
January 1, 2019 1.4x regular rate
January 1, 2020 1.3x regular rate
January 1, 2021 1.2x regular rate
January 1, 2022 1.1x regular rate
January 1, 2023 eliminated

Employer next steps

  • All Massachusetts retail employers should review their payroll practices to ensure that their overtime calculations comply with state and federal overtime laws.
  • Covered retail employers with eight (8) or more employees should update their policies and handbooks with the updated required language, if they have not already done so.

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