Thank you for reading the inaugural post of the Massachusetts Labor and Employment blog. Our goal is to create a forum for informal discussion regarding the latest legal trends and issues facing employers operating in Massachusetts. We are blessed to live and work in the Commonwealth, but we also recognize that running a business in Massachusetts creates a unique set of legal challenges. We hope to talk about these challenges in a practical way and to help employers navigate them. We look forward to your comments and feedback and hope you will keep reading.
It is fitting that now is the start of our blog, because the Massachusetts Earned Sick Time law goes into effect today, July 1, 2015. Every employer in Massachusetts must now provide sick time to employees at the rate of 1 hour of sick time for every 30 hours worked. Employers with at least 11 employees must provide paid leave.
A key point for employers is that other paid leave time, such as vacation time, may be provided in lieu of additional sick time. Thus, if an employer already has a generous paid time off policy, it may not need to give any additional time off to satisfy the law. Final regulations from the Office of the Attorney General make clear, however, that the availability of the safe harbor depends on how the employer’s policy is drafted. It must comply with the Earned Sick Time law and regulations in all respects.
Further, the Office of the Attorney General requires that the policy specifically state that the vacation policy is intended to satisfy the law and that “additional time will not be provided.” Absent this language, an employer will not be in compliance with the law no matter how generous its leave policy may be. These rule highlight that it is very important that employers look carefully at their policies and not assume that they are in compliance.