New MA Law Mandates All Employers Provide Sick Time

By Gregory McIntosh | In NovembeGregM_Bior, Massachusetts voters approved a new law that will provide all employees in Massachusetts with sick leave eligibility.  It will go into effect on July 1, 2015. As the new sick time law will apply to all Massachusetts employers, both public and private, every employer should take the time to explore how it will affect their company.

The new law provides that all employees working at companies that employ eleven or more people will earn and be able to use up to forty hours of paid sick time per calendar year.  Those employees at companies of ten or fewer people will earn the same amount of sick time, but time used will be unpaid.  All employees, regardless of the size of the employer, will accrue one hour of sick time for every thirty hours worked, up to the maximum of forty earned hours of sick time.  For those employees accruing paid sick time, any time used will be paid at the same hourly rate that is paid to that employee at the time the sick time is used.  All employees in Massachusetts will begin to accrue sick time under the new law on the later of July 1, 2015 or the employee’s date of hire.

Employees will only be able to use sick time accrued under the new law in three circumstances: (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 to routine medical appointments of the employee or the employee’s child, spouse, parent or parent of a spouse; and (3) to address the effects of domestic violence on the employee or the employee’s dependent child.

This new law will not override an employer’s obligations under any current contract or benefit plan if that contract or plan provides for more sick time.  Employers found in violation of the law may face stiff penalties including both civil and criminal penalties.

Additionally, an aggrieved employee can bring a private suit against the employer and, if successful, can win triple damages as well as attorney’s fees and costs from the employer.  It is imperative that employers review and thoroughly understand the law and make appropriate plans for compliance prior to July 1, 2015. To learn more, contact Greg McIntosh.