On April 24, 2015, Massachusetts Attorney General Healey filed draft regulations relating to the state’s new Earned Sick Time (EST) leave law which takes effect July 1, 2015. As background, in November 2014 Massachusetts voters approved the EST law (covered in the Dec. 2, 2014, edition of Compliance Corner), which requires employers (those with 11 or more employees) to allow employees to earn and use up to 40 hours of paid sick leave each calendar year. The same requirement applies for small employers, except that the leave can be unpaid. The draft regulations provide additional guidance on the EST law, as well as an opportunity for stakeholders to provide comments and feedback until June 10, 2015 to the Attorney General before regulations are finalized.
The draft regulations address several different specifics under the EST law such as accrual rates (including how to treat breaks in service), carry-over of unused leave and the types of leave that qualify for EST law protection. Specifically, the regulations state that EST can be used for routine or emergency medical visits and travel time if the employee (or a family member) is sick or to address issues of domestic violence. Employees begin accruing sick time on the date of hire. Employees are required to make a good faith effort to notify employers of the intention or need to use sick time. In addition, the regulations allow seasonal workers to carry unused time from season to season.
The draft regulations also contain important definitions related to the EST law. For example, the regulations state that an ‘employer’ subject to the law is one that maintained 11 or more employees on the payroll during 20 or more weeks (whether consecutive or not) over either the current or preceding calendar year or on the payroll during 16 consecutive weeks over the current or preceding calendar year. For purposes of that count, an employer must include all employees regardless of whether an employee works in or outside of Massachusetts.
Importantly, employers that provide sick or other paid leave that is more generous than required by the EST law will be considered to have met their EST law obligations. The draft regulations provide examples of leave policies that would be considered more generous.
Draft Regulations »
Attorney General Press Release »