Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

30 Nov

November 2020 Massachusetts HR Legal Updates

Posted at



New COVID-19 Regulations for Businesses

What happened?
On November 2, 2020, Governor Baker signed several COVID-19 related measures restricting the actions of businesses in the state.

What are the details?
The orders center on five main points: (1) a Stay-At-Home Advisory, (2) Early Closure of Businesses and Activities, (3) Face Covering Order, (4) Gatherings Orders, and (5) Sector-Specific Guidelines.

The Stay-At-Home Advisory directs residents to stay at home except for a few select activities, like grocery shopping and satisfying medical needs.

The Early Closure of Businesses and Activities order limits how long businesses may remain open. The order requires certain businesses to close at 9:30 p.m. To be specific:

  • In-person dining at restaurants must stop at 9:30 p.m., but takeout and delivery may continue for food and non-alcoholic beverages.
  • Liquor stores and other retail establishments that sell alcohol must stop alcohol sales at 9:30 p.m. but may continue to sell other products. In general, the service and sale of alcohol is prohibited during the restricted hours. This prohibition applies to all retailers, restaurants, private clubs, catering halls, events, casinos, and delivery services licensed to sell alcohol.
  • Adult-use marijuana sales, not including medical marijuana sales.
  • Indoor and outdoor events.
  • Theaters and movie theaters, including drive-in movie theaters, and both outdoor and indoor performance venues.
  • Close contact personal services, such as hair and nail salons.
  • Gyms, fitness centers, and health clubs.

The Face Covering Order creates new requirements for when people must wear face coverings, essentially everywhere public. Should a customer refuse to remove their mask due to a medical reason, businesses my not request documentation proving the condition. However, employers may ask for that documentation when an employee makes the same claims.

The Gathering Order will be restricting indoor gatherings to 10 people for private residences, and 25 people for outdoor gatherings. All gatherings must be end and disperse by 9:30 p.m.

The Sector-Specific Guidelines specifically target the following sectors: retail businesses, theaters and performance venues, close contact personal services, and arcades and other indoor or outdoor games and recreation businesses.

A detailed article going over these orders in more detail can be found here.

What do employers need to do?
Massachusetts employers should review the above changes and make any needed changes to workplace policy to stay in compliance.


REMINDER: MA Paid Family and Medical Leave Effective January 1, 2021

What happened?
The statewide Massachusetts Paid Family and Medical Leave (PFML) program will be fully effective January 1, 2021.

What are the details?
Effective January 1, 2021, employees will be able to apply to use the PFML that has been funded through payroll deductions.

An article covering this change can be found here.

What do employers need to do?
While employers should already be in compliance with the state ran program, they may need to review with their administrative staff to ensure everyone understands the requirements and times when the new leave may be used.