Restrictions on business openings on Sundays and legal holidays, commonly known as the Massachusetts Blue Laws, are enforced by the Attorney General's Office. This summary is intended to provide a general overview to help both employees and employers understand what is required by these laws.
While this summary is designed to provide the general information you need, you can also refer to the statutes: M.G.L. Chapter 149, § 148 and "The Wage Act" and M.G.L. Chapter 136, § 6, which outlines the 55 exemptions from the general prohibition against businesses opening on Sundays. If a business does not fall into one or more of the statutory exemptions it may not lawfully operate on Sundays, unless the employer is granted a one day permit. M.G.L. Chapter 136, § 7.
While Massachusetts law bars many types of businesses from opening on Sundays, most retail establishments can open without a permit on Sundays. However, you would be well-served to check the provisions of the law if you have any questions. A business that is not covered by one of the exemptions may apply to the police chief in the city or town where that business is located for a one day permit to work on Sunday. M.G.L. Chapter 136, § 7.
Since 1994, most retailers may open before 12:00 p.m. on Sundays, except for those engaged in the sale of alcoholic beverages. Please note that the AGO enforces the Sunday premium pay requirements, the Commonwealth's Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission ("ABCC") regulates when such business may open.
There are special provisions that apply to certain retail establishments who choose to operate on Sundays, which require payment of premium pay and prohibit employers from requiring employees to work on Sundays.
As a general rule, if a retailer has more than 7 employees, then any nonexempt workers (meaning those employees who are not exempt administrative, executive, or professional employees under M.G.L. c. 151, § 1A (3)) must receive Sunday Premium Pay, at a rate of pay at least one and one-half times their regular hourly rate. M.G.L. Chapter 136, § 6 (50). However, regardless of whether an employee is exempt from premium pay, employers covered by the statute cannot require employees to work on Sunday, and an employee's refusal to work may not be grounds for discrimination, dismissal, discharge, reduction in hours, or any other penalty. M.G.L. Chapter 136, § 6 (50).
A retail employer who fails to pay Sunday premium pay as required may be fined up to $1,000. M.G.L. Chapter 136, §§ 6 (50) and (52); M.G.L. Chapter 149, § 180A. Additionally, a retail employer who requires an employee to work on Sunday may be fined up to $1,000. M.G.L. Chapter 136, §§ 6 (50) and (52); M.G.L. Chapter 149, § 180A.