Massachusetts’ Sick Time Law Takes Effect This July
Beginning in July, Massachusetts workers will not have to fear losing a job just because they or a loved one falls sick.
In an ideal world, sickness and poor health would not prevent us from getting work done. Of course, this is not the case, and illness, disease, and other medical issues are a fact of life. Businesses have been able to ignore this fact in Massachusetts by not including paid sick time as a cost of doing business. An employer could even terminate employees who were sick, or who had to stay home to care for a loved one.
A new law in Massachusetts, going into effect on July 1, will require that businesses with 11 or more employees pay up to 40 hours of sick leave each year. All businesses, regardless of size, must allow some sick leave before terminating an employee.
This measure was enacted in 2014. Some issues, however, remained unresolved in the new law. For example, the law did not address whether employees could cash in unused sick time or how long an employee must work in Massachusetts before the law will apply to them.
Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office Issues Guidelines
In May, the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office issued guidelines to employers regarding compliance with the new law. The AG’s Office has indicated that employers are not required to pay for unused sick time. The AG’s Office also indicated, however, that an employee can carry over unused sick time into the next year. Additionally, if an employee stops working but returns to the position within a year, then unused sick time for the that year is still available. Finally, employees must primarily work in Massachusetts. This does not, however, mean an employee must spend more than 50% of the year in Massachusetts. Instead, the law applies to any employee who spends more time in Massachusetts than any other state.
The law covers full-time, part-time, and contract workers. The employees must be paid their usual or regular rate of pay for sick time. For example, hourly employees must be paid the same hourly rate and salaried employees must receive their usual pay according to salary divided by hours worked. Additionally, commission-based employees must receive the greater of the employees’ base wage or minimum wage ($9.00 an hour in Massachusetts).
Employees are also instructed make a good faith effort to notify employers in advance if they expect to utilize sick leave in the near future.
Wage and Hour Violations In Massachusetts
Massachusetts has a long history of supporting workers’ rights. The newest law is another way in which state law protects the rights of employees. If an employer violates the rights given to employees under state or federal law, then the employee may be entitled to compensation and back pay, among other remedies.
At The Employee Rights Group, LLC, our attorneys are tireless advocates for workers. If you believe you have experienced an employment law violation, contact our office to discuss your legal options today .
Keywords: Sick time, wage and hour violations, wage and hour claims, Massachusetts employment law, employment lawsuit.