MA Sick Leave Law Starts Now

We all want good health – for our business and our employees – but sickness happens.  The Massachusetts earned sick time law now requires time off, paid or unpaid, as accrued for routine or emergency medical visits and travel time to care for an ill family member or to address domestic violence. The law as in effect on July 1 requires 40 hours of paid or unpaid sick leave, etc. accrued at the rate of 1 hour per 30 hours worked. It covers all employees in MA. The Safe Harbor Rules allow 30 hours as the amount of leave for those with appropriate policies already in effect. The cut-off for paid leave is 11 or more employees. Enforcement is under the state’s Wage Act with mandatory triple damages. Business must take care to post / give the required notice and otherwise implement the law.

The Attorney General’s June 19, 2015 Regulations provide notice rules, acceptable documentation of leave and disciplinary steps. They prohibit employees’ inappropriate use before or after vacations, etc. or to be late from work. They clarify that leave is to be concurrent and not additional to other leave. You must adapt many of the new protections as part of your policy.

Employees notice of the need for leave. When the need is foreseeable, employees must try to provide advance notice of up to seven days (e.g. under an employer’s existing notice system if it meets the purposes of the law.) An employer without a notice policy must set one up. If the leave is not foreseeable, employees can give notice ASAP.


*Seven Steps for Employers: 1) Review / adopt a notice system that employees can use for needed sick leave / domestic violence leave, 2) Determine whether employees will be entitled to paid versus unpaid leave based on the 11-employee test, 3) Adapt carryover, cap, and use, attendance and anti-retaliation provisions, 4) determine if your present leave policies, for example, existing sick leave, vacation, etc. will substitute for paid sick time, 5) Provide employees with a copy of the notice issued by the Attorney General and post it, 6) Add policy provisions to give your company protections in an existing Employee Handbook or set up an Employee Handbook,**  6) Ensure systems are set up to calculate & track earned and used sick leave / domestic violence leave time,  & 7) Train managers, HR and payroll about the requirements.

**Call us with any questions or for copies of the Regs.  We have a template, part of our “plain language” Employee Handbook to be tailored to your needs.  If you had a policy, take advantage of the Safe Harbor rules, as they came out “after the fact,” and, if not, have a complete policy, both based on the clarifications in the June 19 Regulations.