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Ask the Hotline – When Christmas Falls on a Sunday

Posted on November 29, 2022


Christmas Day, December 25, falls on a Sunday this year. I know that certain holidays like Christmas Day are subject to specific rules for employers. The state also declared Monday December 26 the observed holiday. May I open my business and require my workers to come in on Monday December 26?


Yes, you may. Monday December 26 is like any other day of the year for private employers. A business may choose to open and require its employees to work. Christmas itself will be subject to blue laws.

One of the quirks of Massachusetts blue laws is that holidays that change days throughout the week occasionally fall on Sunday. These holidays include Juneteenth, Independence Day, Veterans Day, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day. When they occur on a Sunday, they are celebrated on the following Monday by state law. This provision only applies to the observance of the holiday, not to the ability of the state to regulate business activity that day.

Monday December 26

The day after Christmas is not subject to any legal restrictions or special requirements. The Department of Labor Standards (DLS), the state agency that oversees the administration of the blue laws, can only prohibit businesses from opening on Columbus Day, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas Day. The Department does not have authority to restrict the operation of private businesses on any other day, even if the holiday is celebrated on a different day,

DLS issued a notice on September 26 prohibiting retail activity on Thanksgiving (November 24) and Christmas days in accordance with its authority under the blue laws, but that does not affect December 26 or any other day when a holiday may be celebrated. Most operations of state and local government will be closed on Monday, December 26. Many private, non-profit and public employers follow the state’s calendar for observing holidays and will be closed as well.

Sunday December 25

Christmas Day itself is still subject to several Massachusetts Blue Law restrictions created in Mass General Laws Chapter 136. If a retail or non-retail business falls within one of the 55 exemptions established in section 6 of Chapter 136, it may operate on the holiday.  For example, restaurants, pharmacies and hotels may operate on holidays. For a complete list of exemptions, see M.G.L. c. 136, § 6.

However, if the non-retail business is a factory or mill and elects to open on that day, employees may not be required to work on the legal holiday pursuant to M.G.L. 149, § 45 unless the work is “absolutely necessary” and can be legally performed on Sunday.

Because December 25 falls on a Sunday, retail establishments that are permitted to operate under one of the exemptions will be required to pay their employees premium pay. Premium pay for 2022 is 1.1 times the employee’s hourly rate. This year marks the final year of the five-year phase out of premium pay. Starting on January 1, 2023, retail employees working on Sundays and holidays will be compensated at their regular hourly rate of pay unless the employer voluntarily offers premium pay for Sundays

AIM members with questions about this or any other human resources topic may call the AIM Employer Hotline at 1-800-470-6277.