July 27, 2016

July 27, 2016

July 26, 2016

July 25, 2016

Massachusetts Passes Paid Sick Leave Law

On November 4, 2014, Massachusetts joined the growing list of states to guarantee paid sick leave for employees. According to the new law (a ballot question passed by voters), employees may use earned sick leave to care for a physical or mental illness, to care for sick family members, to attend medical appointments, or to address the physical or legal effects of domestic violence (this is in addition to Massachusetts’ new domestic violence leave law).

Relevant Provisions of the New Law:

  • Beginning on July 1, 2015, employers with more than 11 employees must provide paid sick leave for all employees, including part-time employees.

    Leave must accrue at a minimum rate of one hour of sick time per 30 hours worked. Accrual must commence immediately upon an employee’s hire, but employers may prohibit new hires from using accrued time until they have worked for 90 days.

  • Employers may limit annual accrual to 40 hours. However, they must allow employees to carryover unused sick time into the next year. Employers are not required to pay out unused sick time at an employee’s termination.

  • Employers may not require that an employee present a doctor’s note or health care provider certification unless an employee uses sick time for more than 24 consecutively scheduled work hours. Moreover, employers may not delay the taking of sick leave, or the payment for the time taken, merely because they have not yet received a requested certification.

  • Employers may ask employees to make a good faith effort to give advance notice if use of earned sick time is foreseeable.

  • The Attorney General will soon release a posting that explains employees’ rights under the law. When the posting becomes available, employers must post the notice in a conspicuous location, and must provide each employee with a copy.

Recommended Action:

  • Employers should review their current sick leave policies and practices and update them to comport with the requirements of the new law.  Preexisting benefit plans (such as paid time off, vacation, or personal time allowances) can satisfy the requirements of the new law. However, employers should confirm with counsel that these plans are in compliance, because the requirements of the new law may be more expansive than existing policies.

  • Employers should ensure a system is in place to track and calculate accrued and used sick time, and should also provide training for supervisory and managerial employees on the new mandates.

To date, the Attorney General’s office has not yet issued interpretive guidance, nor made available the required posting. Thus, Massachusetts employers should consult with counsel to ensure that their current policies are in compliance, and should continue to seek counsel as more guidance and regulations become available. 

© 2016 Proskauer Rose LLP.

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About this Author

Mark W Batten, Labor & Employment Attorney, Proskauer Law Firm
Partner

Mark Batten is a Partner in the Labor & Employment Law Department and co-head of the Class/Collective Action Group, resident in the Boston office.

Mark represents employers nationwide at all stages of complex employment litigation, including class and collective actions on wage and hour matters and discrimination claims. Ranked by Chambers USA, Mark is hailed as “a fabulous lawyer, handling interesting and complex cases.” Clients “highly recommend him to anyone seeking litigation counsel in the Boston area,” as well as note “he is...

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Law Clerk

Samantha Regenbogen is a law clerk in the Labor & Employment Department. 

Samantha was a summer associate in Proskauer's New York Office, and was involved in drafting briefs and memorandums for both wage and hour class actions and single-plaintiff discrimination cases. Before joining Proskauer, Samantha was an intern with the Enforcement Unit of the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination, where she investigated complaints and drafted dispositions.

During her time at Harvard Law School, Samantha served as a board member of the Women's Law Association and was a cast member and artistic director of the HLS Parody.

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