For Immediate Release - April 04, 2012

New Funeral Board Regulations Help Small Businesses, Grow Jobs

Governor Patrick's Regulatory Review Initiative leads to first funeral rule reform in 8 years

BOSTON – April 4, 2012 – As part of Governor Deval Patrick’s initiative to streamline regulations for small businesses to keep Massachusetts ahead of its economic competitors, the Division of Professional Licensure announced today new rules that give funeral homes greater flexibility in hiring workers and give workers expanded employment opportunities.

“Our collective growth and prosperity depends on the growth and prosperity of small businesses,” said Governor Patrick. “We can strike a better balance between protecting consumers and enabling entrepreneurs to start and grow businesses here, and government must constantly strive to do so. These changes may seem small, but not to the small businesses that have to deal with them – and we are not stopping here.”

The Board of Registration in Embalming and Funeral Directing's new regulations make it easier for funeral home employees to work part-time for more than one funeral home at a time. This gives funeral homes more options to hire part-time employees and allows workers the flexibility to increase his or her workload.

“These new regulations will not only translate into better service for families during a very difficult time, but they are also pro-competitive for both funeral homes and funeral home workers,” said Barbara Anthony, Undersecretary of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation, which oversees the Division of Professional Licensure. “We are giving the business community and its employees more flexibility in addressing the needs of Massachusetts families in need of funeral industry services.”

In March, Governor Patrick announced an Administration-wide review of state regulations in an effort to streamline rules for small businesses. Already, state agencies have reviewed 200 regulations that are more than 12 years old, and changes are being made to 150 of those regulations. The initiative will lead to a regulatory structure that is a better balance between protecting consumers and enabling entrepreneurs to start and grow businesses in Massachusetts.

The new regulations, which govern individuals and businesses in the funeral industry, create two new license classes: A “Registered Funeral Home Assistant” and a “Type 6 Funeral Director and Embalmer.” The Type 6 Funeral Director registration replaces the previous Type 4 and Type 5 Funeral Director registrations, allowing simpler registration requirements for these funeral home employees, who for the first time will be allowed to work on a part-time basis or for more than one funeral home.

The new Funeral Home Assistant registrant will be able to assist in performing simple funeral tasks under the supervision of a Funeral Director, after satisfying education requirements, without having to obtain a full Funeral Director registration. The regulations also simplify other licensing rules, clarify advertising restrictions and liability insurance requirements, and allow funeral homes to provide non-alcoholic beverages at wakes outside viewing rooms.

The text of the new regulations is available at http://www.mass.gov/ocabr/licensee/dpl-boards/em/. The Board will provide additional guidance to funeral professionals through website postings, as well as public meetings to be held throughout the Commonwealth.

“The Board worked long and hard on these new regulations, with input from consumers and from the industry,” said Mark Kmetz, Director of the Division of Professional Licensure. “Funerals touch each of our lives, at vulnerable times. It is important that the professionals in the funeral business operate under clear rules that protect consumers, without burdening these small businesses or inhibiting job growth.”

Funeral services professionals provide services for the deceased and their families. Members of this profession prepare the bodies of the deceased through embalming, arrange for crematory services, and provide services of assistance for family members of the deceased. The Board registers funeral services professionals, and licenses embalming and funeral facilities. Funeral directors also require licensure by local boards of health. The Board has registered more than 2,300 individuals and licensed 661 funeral homes in Massachusetts.

The Board of Registration in Embalming and Funeral Directing is one of 31 professional and trade boards under the supervision of the Division of Professional Licensure. The agency is responsible for ensuring regulatory compliance and the integrity of the licensing process for more than 365,000 licensees in trades and professions under the jurisdiction of 31 boards of registration. The Division reminds consumers who may be using a licensed professional or tradesperson to check its website at www.mass.gov/dpl and select the “Check a Professional License” link to determine whether the individual or business entity is licensed and in good standing.

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