Massachusetts Sick Time Law

On July 1, 2015, all Massachusetts employers will be required to offer sick leave to employees.  If you have 11 or more employees, you will be required to offer paid leave.  If you have 1-10 employees you can offer unpaid leave. This law requires you to provide notice to your employees of their rights under this law.

Do you have a policy in place to ensure your company is in compliance with the sick time policy?  Please contact EmCo if you want help reviewing your paid time off policies or implementing a program that will be compliant with this new state law.

Here are some Q&A’s to help explain the sick time law.

Does The New Sick Leave Law Affects All Businesses?  The new sick leave law affects every employer in Massachusetts.  Starting July 1, 2015, all Massachusetts employers will have to offer time off for employees with their own medical needs or to care for a family member with medical needs.  If you have 1-10 employees, you must offer 40 hours of unpaid sick leave.  If you have 11 or more employees, you must offer paid time off for sick leave.

How Do I Know If I Have 11 Employees? Who Gets Counted?  The law requires you to count all paid employees whether full-time, part-time or temporary.  They all can earn sick leave at a rate of one hour sick time for every 30 hours worked.

But, We Already Offer Vacation Time, Do We Have To Offer Sick Leave Too?  If you offer employees 40 hours of paid leave (sick, personal, or vacation) that they can use for illness, you don’t need to offer more paid leave.  But, you need to make sure your current policy meets or exceeds the requirements of the new law.

How Do Employees Accrue This Leave?  Employees accrue one hour of leave for every 30 hours they work until they reach 40 hours accrued sick time per year.  They only earn 40 hours in a year.

I Have Tipped Employees, How Much Are They Paid For Sick Time?  Employees are paid their hourly wage when using paid sick time unless they are employees who earn less than minimum wage.  An employee on paid sick time must be paid at least minimum wage for paid sick time used.

Is There a Waiting Period For New Employees?  New employees start accruing sick leave as soon as they start working.  However, a new employee cannot take any sick time during the first 90 days of employment.

When Can An Employee Take Sick Time?  (1) To care for a physical or mental illness, injury or medical condition affecting the employee or the employee’s child, spouse, parent, or parent of a spouse;  (2) To attend routine medical appointments of the employee or the employee’s child, spouse, parent, or parent of a spouse; or (3) To address the effects of domestic violence on the employee or the employee’s dependent child.

Can I Require Proof That The Employee Is Sick?  If an employee is out for more than 24 consecutive hours, an employer can require that the employee provide a certification from a health care provider that the employee is sick and cannot work.  The employer cannot require information describing the nature of the illness.

Is Accrued Sick Time Carried From Year To Year?  Do I Have To Pay For Unused Time?Employers must also allow employees to carry over up to 40 hours of unused sick time to the next calendar year, although they may limit employees from using more than 40 hours in a given year. Unlike vacation time, employers will not have to pay employees for unused sick time at the end of their employment.

Anything Else?  You cannot require an employee to make up time lost to sickness.  In addition, you cannot require a sick employee to find someone to cover his or her shift.  Finally, you cannot punish an employee or give a lower performance rating because the employee legitimately used sick time.  The Massachusetts Attorney General may issue regulations to provide additional details on how this law is to be interpreted.

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  1. Pingback: Mass Sick Time Law – UPDATE | EmCo Consulting LLC

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