Holidays can be hectic. For employers, holidays are even more complex when one considers the intricacies of the holiday employment laws. Violations of holiday laws can be costly, so it is important for employers to know the laws as they pertain to their business. Unfortunately, navigating through the laws is not always easy.
In Massachusetts, holiday employment laws can vary depending on the nature of the business. For example, retail establishments are subject to unrestricted holidays, partially restricted holidays, and restricted holidays, while non-retail businesses have unrestricted and restricted holidays.
Additionally, holidays do not always fall within the same restriction category. New Year’s Day, for example, is an unrestricted holiday in non-retail, while it is a partially restricted holiday in retail. Retail’s partial restriction also applies to Memorial Day but that is a restricted holiday in non-retail. Further, if one is in manufacturing, or if the holiday occurs on a Sunday, the rules can change.
The obligations under a restriction can also vary. In retail, a partial restricted holiday means that the employer may be subject to paying time and one half wages and that the employees must actually volunteer to work the shift. A non-retail business may be subject to the “special permit” rule if it decides that it would like to operate on a restricted holiday.
Staffing around the holidays can also prove difficult. Many employers overstaff in anticipation of a high volume of business, but let employees leave early when the anticipated levels flop. This practice, however, can lead to issues because Massachusetts code requires that when an employee is scheduled for a shift of three or more hours, so long as the employee arrives for the shift, he or she must be paid for at least three hours of work, regardless of whether the employee worked less than 3 hours of their scheduled shift.
In short, holidays can present employers with legal issues, and it is not always wise to do what one’s neighbor is doing. Each employer should seek to understand the holiday employment laws as they specifically pertain to the employer. If this proves to be challenging or confusing, the employer should seek the advice of counsel.
Image credit: Dr. Wendy Longo under Creative Commons license