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Ask the Hotline | Complex Rules Governing Veterans Day

November 6, 2018
I noticed that Veteran’s Day is on a Sunday this year. Does that mean anything special for my retail business? 
Yes it does.
The Massachusetts Blue Laws govern the operation of businesses on both Sundays and holidays, including special provisions for retail establishments. And it gets more complicated when the holiday falls on a Sunday.
  1. Massachusetts law states that when any holiday that shifts days of the week (New Years, Christmas, Fourth of July and Veteran’s Day) falls on a Sunday, it is celebrated on the following Monday.
  2. Section 5 of Ch 136 (the Blue Laws) states that whoever opens a shop, warehouse, factory or other place of business, or sells foodstuffs, goods, wares, merchandise or real estate … shall be punished by a fine of up to $20 to $100 for a first offense, and a fine of not $50 to $200 for each subsequent offense with each unlawful act or sale a separate offense for which a fine may be assessed.
  3. Section 6 of Ch 136 provides for a long list of exceptions to the mandatory closing law while noting that if a retail store wants to open on a Sunday or a covered holiday, it must pay premium (not overtime) pay of 1.5 times an employee’s regular wage. While the Grand Bargain of this past summer amended the law to gradually reduce and ultimately eliminate the premium pay provision, it is still in effect in 2018.
  4. Section 13 of Ch 136 provides that any retail establishment that operates on November 11 must pay its employees time-and-one-half for each hour worked.
Any employer wishing to be open must pay premium pay for Sunday and for Monday. The law also provides that such work be voluntary and that refusal to work for any retail establishment shall not be grounds for discrimination, dismissal, discharge, reduction in hours, or any other penalty.
One final point. The law also provides that if an employer subject to this law wishes to open on Veteran’s Day (in this case, Monday) before 1 pm, it must get permission from the chief of police or any other officer in charge of the police department or the chairman of the board of selectmen of any town where no police department has been established. 
An application for a permit under this law must be filed within 60 days prior to the day on which the permit is to be used, and the permit must be issued or denied within 15 days of application.
A permit covers only one day. The Department of Labor Standards, the state agency that oversees the issuing of permits for these days, earlier this year issued blanket permission authorizing chiefs of police to use their discretion in issuing permits for retail stores to open.
AIM members may contact the AIM Employer Hotline at 1-800-470-6277 with questions about HR topics.
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