November 20, 2017

November 20, 2017

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November 17, 2017

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Massachusetts Earned Sick Time Law: Safe Harbor Expires December 31, 2015; Full Compliance Deadline is January 1, 2016

Employers operating under the Massachusetts Earned Sick Leave Law “safe harbor” should prepare to fully comply with the Law beginning January 1, 2016.

Background

The Massachusetts Earned Sick Leave Law became effective July 1, 2015. Under the Law, all employees who work primarily in Massachusetts are entitled to accrue and use up to 40 hours of sick time each year. Employers with at least 11 employees anywhere must provide this time on a paid basis to their Massachusetts employees. Employers with fewer than 11 employees anywhere must provide this time on an unpaid basis. The Earned Sick Leave Law also limits how and when an employer can seek documentation from employees taking sick leave and prevents employers from interfering or retaliating against employees for taking sick leave. (For additional details on the Massachusetts Earned Sick Leave Law, see our articles, Massachusetts Voters Pass Mandatory Sick Time Law for All Employers, Effective July 1, 2015Massachusetts Earned Sick Leave Law Update: Proposed Regulations Released by Attorney General’s Office, and Massachusetts Earned Sick Time Law Update: Safe Harbor Clarified, Form Notice Available.)

Safe Harbor

Prior to the July 1, 2015, effective date, the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office announced that employers with existing paid time off policies that met certain requirements could take advantage of a “safe harbor” to comply with the sick leave law through the end of 2015. Under the announced “safe harbor,” employers with paid time off (“PTO”) policies in effect as of May 1, 2015, that provided employees with at least 30 hours of paid time off in calendar year 2015, would be “deemed to be compliant” with the sick leave law for calendar year 2015. As of January 1, 2016, however, the “safe harbor” expires.

Next Steps

Many employers with existing sick leave, vacation, or PTO policies became compliant with the Massachusetts Earned Sick Leave Law under the announced “safe harbor.” This temporary reprieve expires on December 31, 2015. As of January 1, 2016, all employers must have a sick leave or PTO policy that is fully compliant with the Law and its implementing regulations. Employers, therefore, would be well-served to review and update existing sick leave and PTO policies to ensure continued compliance.

Jackson Lewis P.C. © 2017

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Jeffrey S. Brody, Jackson Lewis, employee discipline attorney, disability management lawyer
Principal

Jeffrey S. Brody is a Principal in the Boston, Massachusetts, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. He exclusively represents management in workplace law, including counseling and litigation. Mr. Brody routinely advises clients regarding day-to-day employment issues, such as employee discipline and discharge, disability management issues, reductions in force, and restrictive covenants. He also regularly conducts training programs for employers on a variety of employment-related topics, such as performance management, sexual harassment awareness, and disability...

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Samia Kirmani, Jackson Lewis Law Firm, Unemployment Counseling Attorney
Principal

Samia M. Kirmani is a Principal in the Boston, Massachusetts, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. She concentrates her practice in employment counseling, training and litigation on behalf of management.

Ms. Kirmani provides practical legal advice to clients on various employment law issues, including discrimination, health and leave management, reductions in force, retaliation and whistleblower matters, individual separations, and employee relations issues. Ms. Kirmani also assists clients with policy creation, revision and implementation and routinely conducts management and employee trainings on topics in employment law, including sexual harassment prevention and best management practices. Ms. Kirmani also advises clients with respect to drafting and implementing national arbitration agreements.

Ms. Kirmani defends employers in employment-related litigation and administrative proceedings at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination. Ms. Kirmani is a frequent speaker and addresses Legal and Human Resources audiences on current and various workplace law topics, such as paid sick leave, arbitration agreements and class action waivers, and employment discrimination.

 

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Michael Bertoncini, Jackson Lewis, labor relations attorney, employment litigation lawyer, NLRB proceedings counsel, arbitration law
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Michael R. Bertoncini is a Principal in the Boston, Massachusetts, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. He practices labor and employment law, with a particular emphasis on labor relations, and employment law counseling and litigation.

In labor relations matters, he regularly counsels clients on the practice of positive employee relations, negotiates collective bargaining agreements on behalf of organized clients, represents clients in labor arbitrations and National Labor Relations Board proceedings, and counsels clients with...

617-367-0025
Brian E. Lewis, Jackson Lewis, disability management issues lawyer, restrictive covenants attorney
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Brian E. Lewis is a Principal in the Boston, Massachusetts, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. He exclusively represents management in all facets of workplace law.

Mr. Lewis routinely advises clients regarding day-to-day employment issues, such as employee discipline and discharge, disability management issues, proper payment of wages, reductions in force, and restrictive covenants. Mr. Lewis also has experience in representing clients on traditional labor law issues, and has appeared before the National Labor Relations Board. He...

617-367-0025