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Paid Sick Leave Law passes in Massachusetts

January 20, 2015

Massachusetts employees should prepare for new sick leave law.

On November 4, 2014, Massachusetts passed a new law which guarantees paid sick leave for the state’s employees, joining a growing list of states that have already passed this law. For situations where an employee is caring for a personal mental or physical illness, aiding sick family members, attending doctor’s appointments, or dealing with domestic violence issues, Massachusetts guarantees that he/she can use paid sick leave.

6 provisions under the new law

  1. Employers with over 11 employees are required to pay sick leave for all employees, full time and part time. This policy will begin July 1, 2015.
  2. An employee can accrue sick time at a minimum rate of one hour per 30 hours worked. Companies are able to require a minimum of 90 days worked for new employees to acquire sick time.
  3. Employers are able to limit the yearly accrual of sick leave to 40 hours, but employees are able to carryover any unused sick time into the following year. If an employee is terminated, the employer does not have to pay out any unused sick time.
  4. If employees know they will need sick time, employers are allowed to ask for advanced notice.
  5. If an employee uses more than 24 consecutive work hours for sick time, employers can require a doctor’s note or health care provider certification. Otherwise, employees are not required to present such documents. Even if an employer has not received a note or certification validating the illness, he/she cannot delay the employee’s taking of sick time.
  6. A posting which details employees’ rights under the law will be released by the Attorney General soon. When it is released, employers will be required to post the notice in an obvious place that can be seen by each employee. In addition, each employee must receive a copy of the posting.

The state strongly suggests that employers review their existing policies concerning sick leave and adjust them according to the new law. Paid time off, vacation, or personal time allowance plans which your organization currently has could satisfy the new requirements, but it is important to confirm these with counsel. In addition, it is recommended for employers to make sure they have a system in place which keeps track of accrued and used sick time. Employees in a supervisory or managerial position should be trained on the new laws and requirements.

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