As we reported, last November, voters in Massachusetts approved a law granting Massachusetts employees the right to sick leave, starting on July 1, 2015. The law provides paid sick leave for employers with 11 or more employees and unpaid sick leave for employees with 10 or fewer employees. While the law set forth the basics, many of the details, which have differentiated the various sick leave laws across the country, were not previously specified (e.g., minimum increments of use, frontloading, documentation). The Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office (“AGO”) has set forth proposed regulations to guide employers in implementing the upcoming sick leave law. Some of the proposed regulations include:
- To determine an employer’s size, the number of employees at all locations will be counted, not just those employees in Massachusetts. For example, if a company has 25 employees in New York and three employees in Massachusetts, the employer will be required to provide paid sick leave to the Massachusetts employees because the employer has 11 or more employees in total.
- Employees may use sick leave in hourly increments. However, if the employer has to hire a replacement, and does so, the employer may charge the employee for the entire missed shift.
- If an employer decides to pay employees for their accrued, unused sick leave at the end of the calendar year, the employer need only frontload 16 hours in the following calendar year (as opposed to all 40 hours the employee will receive that year).
- An employer may choose to frontload 40 hours of sick leave per year rather than tracking accrual rates throughout the year.
- An employer may not request documentation about an employee’s need for leave until the employee has taken 24 consecutive hours of sick leave.
- At that point, an employee may provide documentation in the form of a doctor’s note or a written statement evidencing the need to use sick leave.
- If leave is related to domestic violence, an employee may provide alternative documentation.
- The employee may submit any of the above documentation in any form customarily used to communicate, including via text message, e-mail, or fax.
- Employers must provide written notice to employees at the beginning of employment as to what constitutes a “calendar year” for accrual and use purposes.
- Employers must post the notice of the Earned Sick Time Law in the workplace and provide a copy to all employees.
The AGO will be holding public hearings throughout the state, including one in Boston on May 18, 2015, to discuss comments to the proposed regulations. We will inform you once the regulations become effective.