Murtha Means More

June 23, 2015 - Labor & Employment News - Massachusetts Earned Sick Time Law Effective July 1, 2015

May and June saw a flurry of activity related to the Earned Sick Time law that was approved by Massachusetts voters last Fall.  The Attorney General’s Office issued draft regulations on an accelerated notice and comment timetable, the General Court considered and rejected legislation that would have delayed implementation of the law, the Attorney General declared a “safe harbor” for certain employers through the end of 2015, issued a mandatory notice describing employee rights under the new law and finally, less than two weeks before the July 1, 2015 effective date of the law, issued final regulations that differed in some significant ways from the draft regulations.  Employers who waited for the final regulations need to rapidly analyze and assess their policies to bring them into compliance; employers who have already revised their policies need to review them in light of the Attorney General’s new regulations.  Either way, there is work to be done by the HR staff.

As a reminder, the new Massachusetts law provides that all employers that employ an average of 11 or more employees must allow all employees to accrue and use paid sick time at a rate of at least 1 hour for every thirty (30) hours worked.  Employees can use such paid sick time for (a) their own illnesses; (b) the illnesses of family members; (c) medical visits for themselves or family members; or (d) matters related to the consequences of domestic violence. 

The Office of the Attorney General has issued final regulations, a copy of which can be found by clicking here. Those regulations go into detail about how the law must be implemented. Among the issues noted by the regulations are:

  • The method by which Earned Sick Time is accrued;
  • The notices to which an employer may be entitled;
  • Documentation of the use of Earned Sick Time;
  • How existing paid time off policies interact with Earned Sick Time under the new law;
  • Necessary recordkeeping; and
  • Notice provisions.

With regard to this last point, the Office of the Attorney General has developed a posting, which is available [click here] - that employers must post in the workplace AND must provide to employees directly, either in hard copy or electronically (or as part of a distributed employee manual).

Finally, while the legislature chose not the delay implementation of the law, the Attorney General’s Office has developed a “Safe
Harbor” under which certain employers may delay full incorporation of the new law until January, 2016. In order to be eligible for this Safe Harbor, an employer must meet the following criteria:

  • It must have had a policy in existence as of May 15, 2015;
  • Full time employees on the policy have the right to earn and use at least 30 hours of paid time off/sick leave during calendar year 2015; and
  • On or after July 1, 2015, all employees not previously covered by the existing policy - including part-timers, new employees and perdiem employees, must either accrue at the same rate as full time employees or receive a lump sum pro-rated allocation of sick time.

A more complete description of the requirements for the Safe Harbor is in the regulations.  Employers who fit within the Safe Harbor have until January, 2016 to adjust their policies to more fully comply with the new law.

Employers with any operations in Massachusetts should review their policies as soon as possible to make sure that they are in compliance with the new law. 

If you have any questions regarding the above, please contact Susan J. Baronoff at 617.457.4031 or or Monica P. Snyder at 617.457.4157 or For more information on our Labor and Employment Group, click here.




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