Massachusetts Earned Sick Time Law Effective July 1, 2015
This is a reminder that, effective July 1, 2015, Massachusetts’ Earned Sick Time law (M.G. L. c. 149, §§148C and 148D) requires employers who employ eleven or more employees to provide their Massachusetts employees with up to 40 hours of job-protected sick time annually. AAFCPAs thought you may benefit from this summary. Full time, part-time, temporary, seasonal, and employees who have been provided from a staffing agency will be included in the number of employees held by the employer. An employee is covered by the law if they spend the majority of their working hours in Massachusetts, even if the employer is located outside of Massachusetts.
Earned sick time is to be used for illness, routine medical appointments for employees and their families, or for issues related to domestic violence. The law also protects employees’ travel to and from an appointment, a pharmacy, or other location related to the purpose for which time was taken. Employees cannot use more than 40 hours of sick time in any given year; however, they are permitted to carryover up to 40 hours of unused sick time from year-to-year. The smallest increment of sick time an employee is permitted to use is one hour. After the first hour, the employee can use sick time in one-hour increments, or the smallest increment the employer’s payroll system allows. An employer has the right to discipline employees who misuse their earned sick time for personal matters, and may require employees to provide written documentation when using sick time.
Employers must pay earned sick time at the same hourly rate that the employee is receiving at the time they chose to use their earned sick time. For example, employees paid at a consistent hourly rate will use that rate when using their sick leave earned. Employees who earn variable rates for hourly work will earn sick time using a blended rate, which is calculated by taking the weighted average of hours worked in the previous pay period. Employees on a commission-based salary will be paid the greater of the base average or minimum wage.
The Massachusetts Attorney General is offering a safe harbor during the transition year, (July 1 through December 31, 2015) for employers who meet certain requirements. The Attorney General will consider an employer in compliance with the law if the employer has a policy for paid time off or paid sick leave in effect as of May 1, 2015. The policy must provide employees with the right to use at least 30 hours of paid time off or paid sick leave during the calendar year of 2015. The employer must also provide a policy on or after July 1, 2015 to those not previously covered.
The Attorney General does not permit employers to require or allow earned sick time to run concurrently with Family Medical Leave Act, Massachusetts Parental Leave Act, and other statutorily-authorized leave laws.
The Attorney General prepared the below Earned Sick Time Notice of Employee Rights, and mandated that employers post it in a conspicuous location that is accessible to employees in every location in which eligible employees work. Here are the links for your convenience:
- English Earned Sick Time Notice of Employee Rights
- Spanish Earned Sick Time Notice of Employee Rights
- Portuguese Earned Sick Time Notice of Employee Rights
Employers may use their own sick leave or paid time off policies, so long as:
- 40 hours of time off is provided (or a lesser amount as may be appropriate under the accrual rate of no less that one hour earned for every 30 hours worked);
- Sick leave pay is at the employee’s same hourly rate;
- Leave can be used for all purposes outlined in the statute including sick leave, attending medical appointments, and domestic violence matters;
- Leave is available under the same conditions of notice and documentation; and
- These policies have the same job protections for the employees.
It is unlawful to violate any provision of the Earned Sick Time Law and AAFCPAs advises you to implement a sick leave policy as soon as possible to avoid risks of civil citations from the Attorney General, as well as private civil action penalties from aggrieved employees.
If you have any questions about the Massachusetts Earned Sick Time Law, please contact your AAFCPA partner, or Josh England, Esq, at 774.512.4109, firstname.lastname@example.org.