Important Changes in Massachusetts Earned Sick Time Law

Earned Sick Time LawThe Massachusetts Medical Society has released a resource that informs employers in physician practices of the recent Earned Sick Time Law. Effective July 1, 2015, all Massachusetts employers must allow their employees to accrue and use sick time leave. The law broadly defines an employer as “an individual, corporation, partnership or other private or public entity… who engages the services of any employee for wages, remuneration, or other compensation.” Alternatively, an employee is defined as “any person who performs services for an employer for wage, remuneration, or other compensation.”

It is important to note that only employees whose “primary place of work” is in Massachusetts are eligible to earn sick time. Additionally, only employers that maintain an average of 11 or more employees on their payroll during the preceding year must offer paid sick leave. Employers with fewer than 11 employees only need to provide unpaid sick leave. To help explain this concept and view what it looks like in practice, please refer to the resource on the MMS website. (Available to MMS members only.)

The rate at which sick time is earned is 1 hour of sick time for every 30 hours of work. Forty hours per benefit year is the maximum amount of allowed sick time to be accrued within a year and unused hours can rollover to the following year. Exempt or salaried employees accrue based on their “normal work week,” meaning the hours outlined in their employment contract.

Sick time accrued may be used for the following reasons:

  1. Caring for their own physical or mental illness, injury, or medical condition
  2. Caring for a physical or mental illness, injury, or medical condition of their child, spouse, parent, or spouse’s parent
  3. Attending their own routine medical appointment
  4. Attending a routine medical appointment for their child, spouse, parent, or spouse’s parent
  5. Addressing the psychological, physical, or legal effects of domestic violence
  6. Travel necessitate by any of the above

Employers violate the law if they interfere, restrain, or deny employees’ to use earned sick time or by taking adverse action against employee for using their sick time. The severity of the violation defines the severity of penalties, which can include civil fines, written warnings/citations, criminal prosecutions, and/or private civil lawsuits. To comply with the Earned Sick Time Law, employers must do the following:

  1. Provide their employees with notice of the Earned Sick Time Law
  2. Comply with the EarnedSick Time Law’s record keeping requirements
  3. Review their existing policies and establish new ones
  4. Consult with legal counsel to discuss their specific need related to the Earned Sick Time Law

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