Governor Baker recently signed a bill that makes a distinction between a “retailer” and a “distributor” for purposes of Sunday employee pay. The new law allows “distributors” to pay employees their regular wage for Sunday work while continuing to require “retailers” with more than seven (7) employees to pay their employees time and a half for Sunday work. While the law draws a distinction between a “retailer” and a “distributor,” there is some gray area between the two classifications. The new law also expands (but still limits) the limited transport of goods in commerce on Sundays so long as the goods emanate from an establishment within the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
The new law has sparked controversy in light of Amazon’s plan to open a distribution center in the Fall River area, as retailers claim that the law gives an unfair advantage to Amazon. This law could potentially allow Amazon, classified as a “distributor” under the law, to continue its day to day operations on Sunday, while competing, small town businesses are forced to pay their employees time and a half as the law continues to define them as a “retailer.” Small business will need to adjust to this law while also adjusting to the increase in the minimum wage, which will rise to $11.00 per hour for hourly employees in 2017.