In November 2014, Massachusetts citizens voted to entitle Massachusetts workers to earn and use paid sick time. In April 2015, the Attorney General released proposed regulations in order to help businesses comply with the new law. All employers are impacted by the law; however, only employers with 11 or more employees (not full-time equivalents (FTE’s)) during the calendar year are required to provide paid sick time to any employee whose primary workplace is located in Massachusetts, including part-time, full-time, seasonal or temporary employees. The new law takes effect on July 1, 2015.
According to a summary and the draft regulations published by the Attorney General’s office, some of the highlights of the new law are as follows:
• Massachusetts workers whose employers have 11 or more employees for at least 20 weeks during either the current or preceding calendar year (whether consecutive or not) can earn and use up to 40 hours of paid sick time per calendar year
• For employers with less than 11 employees for at least 16 weeks during either the current or preceding calendar year, workers can earn and use unpaid sick time
• The use of earned sick time can be used for:
o Caring for a physical or mental illness, injury or medical condition affecting the employee, spouse, child, parent or parent of a spouse
o Attending routine medical appointments for the employee, spouse, child, parent or parent of spouse
o Addressing the effects of domestic violence on the employee or employee’s dependent child
• Employees will earn at least one hour of sick time for every 30 hours worked
• Hours will begin to accrue on the date of hire, or July 1, 2015 (whichever is later) and employees can begin to use the sick time 90 days after that date (July 1, 2015 or date of hire, whichever is later).
• Up to 40 hours of earned sick time can be carried over to the next calendar year, but the employer is not required to provide more than 40 hours of paid sick time in one calendar year
• Earned sick time is not required to be paid out upon termination from employment
• Employers cannot require workers to make up the used sick time
• Other provisions exist within the law regarding requirements to provide notice, certification, documentation, retaliation, confidentiality, breaks in service, exempt employees and other responsibilities on the part of the employer and employee.
The above highlights are just a sample of what is in the draft regulations. All employers should be reviewing their employee handbooks containing human resource and PTO policies to ensure that their policies are up-to-date and compliant with the new law. An experienced employment attorney is recommended to ensure that circumstances specific to each organization are considered when reviewing for compliance.
Jeanne Pagnozzi is a manager in BlumShapiro’s Accounting and Auditing Department, based in Quincy, Massachusetts, Jeanne oversees attest and tax engagements and is responsible for engagement planning, staff supervision and coordination with client personnel to ensure successful completion of projects.