Massachusetts Earned Sick Time Law

In case you have been distracted by various issues running your business or trying to find time to take a vacation, we wanted to highlight the fact that The Earned Sick Time law (940 C.M.R. 33.00) that was passed by voters on the November 2014 ballot goes into effect on July 1, 2015. The final regulations, along with the law and other guidance materials are now available on the Massachusetts Attorney Generals’ website. Since the law was passed, the AG’s office has spent much time and many public hearings to craft the final regulations, which were released on June 19, 2015.

The Earned Sick Time law may have a significant impact on your business since it allows employees to accrue earned sick time on all hours worked at a rate of 1 hour of earned sick time for every 30 hours worked, including overtime, up to a maximum of 40 hours per benefit year. Upon reading this, if you feel that this law will have an impact on your business, please contact us so we can coordinate the proper resources to help you with the implementation of the law.


Which businesses does the affect? 

While the earned sick time law affects all MA private sector businesses,  employers who already have earned sick time or paid time off benefits programs in place are likely already in compliance.  The Attorney General’s office recently confirmed that vacation time and PTO programs that provide 40 hours of time off are sufficient to meet this requirement as long as the usage and other protections are executed according to the law.  This means that many employers are largely unaffected by this regulation.


What should your business do now?

If your business currently has a sick time policy:

  • Compare your policy with the law to be sure that you are in compliance.
  • Be sure to post the mandatory posting prominently in your workspace.
  • Confirm that your employee tracking system can calculate and assign benefits and accruals appropriately to all new employees, part-time employees, and per diem employees. Employers that offer a lump sum of 40 hours or more of sick time at the beginning of the year are not required to permit year-to-year roll-over.
  • Verify that you can track and report usage of time off, which is required to be available to the employee.
  • Educate your employees and managers on the allowed uses of sick time, the required communication according to the law, and the prohibited using sick time considered abuses under the law.

If your business does not currently have a sick time policy:

  • Act now. July 1 is the effective date for this law.
  • Determine if you have 11 or more employees so you will know if the sick time must be paid or can be unpaid. The Attorney General’s office released its new (final) calculation method for calculating headcount.
    • Employers shall determine the average number of employees by counting the number of employees, including full time, part-time, seasonal, and temporary employees, on the payroll during each pay period and dividing by the number of pay periods.
    • Employees furnished to an employer by a temporary staffing agency and paid by the staffing agency count as employees of both the staffing agency and the employer for the purpose of determining employer size.
    • An employee is eligible to accrue and use earned sick time if the employee’s primary place of work is in Massachusetts regardless of the location of the employer.
  • Review your time tracking and payroll system for the capability to implement this additional layer of time accrual and usage measurement.
  • Understand the law and its minimum requirements. Draft and implement a new internal policy and begin complying with the law on or before July 1. Get help if you need it.  Please call our office and we’ll help you get started down the right path.


Written by Will Debler, Partner.