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New Comprehensive Sick Time Law Impacts All Employers

Published:  November 6, 2014

Many Massachusetts employers woke up yesterday with a lot of questions after Massachusetts voters approved a ballot question mandating that employers provide employees sick time.  Who does this apply to?  How much sick time has to be paid?  What can sick time be used for?  Can I ask my employees for medical documentation?  Is my current Paid Time Off (PTO) policy in compliance with this new law?  If you have an employee, this law impacts you. 

Under this new law, employers with 11 or more employees must provide up to 40 hours of paid sick time per calendar year.  Employers with less than 11 employees must provide up to 40 hours of unpaid sick time per calendar year.  An employee is broadly defined as “any person who performs services for an employer for wage, remuneration, or other compensation” and includes both non-exempt and exempt employees.

An employee may use sick time to care for his or her own physical or mental illness, injury, or medical condition or to attend routine medical appointments.  An employee may also take sick time to care for or attend medical appointments with his or her child, spouse, parent, or parent of a spouse.  In addition, sick time may be used to address the psychological, physical, or legal effects of domestic violence.  The good news is that employers may request medical documentation for an absence of more than 24 hours.

An employee accrues one hour of sick time for every thirty hours worked.  Although employees begin to accrue sick time on their date of hire, they cannot use sick time until they have been employed for 90 days.  Sick time carries over to the next calendar year, but there is a cap of 40 hours per calendar year.  Unlike accrued vacation time, sick time does not have to be paid to an employee upon separation. 

This law will go into effect on July 1, 2015. 

In light of this new law, many employers are going to need to revise their current PTO policies or create sick time policies to ensure compliance with the law. 

If you have any questions regarding sick time leave, please contact any of the attorneys at Royal LLP at (413) 586-2288.