The mandated sick-days law approved by Massachusetts voters on November 4 touched off a wave of confusion among employers anxious to comply with the statute while maintaining a competitive benefits program.
That’s why AIM today filed legislation to clarify the ballot language for both employers and workers before the law takes effect on July 1. The corrections bill does not represent an attempt to circumvent the will of the voters, but rather to provide employers with a clear roadmap on issues such as eligibility and how the new statute works with existing paid time off benefit plans.
John Regan, Executive Vice President of Government Affairs, says the measure reflects thousands of comments that the association has received during seminars, Web conferences and other conversations with member employers during the past two months.
AIM’s bill addresses the following concerns voiced by employers.
Employers were concerned that interns, independent contractors, and employees paid on commission would be counted as part of the employee threshold and would be eligible for earned or paid sick time. The bill would remove those types of workers as part of the total count of employees and would place leave benefits for those people at the discretion of the employer.
Employers were concerned that the ballot language does not incorporate current payroll systems or the various types of shifts that manufacturers or nurses have. Some manufacturers track employee time by the minute. Many nurses work 12-hour shifts. The current law would allow an employee to take earned time off in minutes, a practice that would disrupt transportation of goods and delivery of vital services in the health care arena. The bill would clarify that employees could take leave for a full work day or in a portion of the day, rather than minutes or a several hours of a shift.
Employers were concerned that the law would require them to eliminate their current Paid Time Off (PTO) systems, which are popular among employees. The AIM bill would allow employers to integrate existing PTO systems with the new Act.
Employers were concerned that the documentation and administrative provisions would negatively impact attendance incentive plans. The bill would provide employers flexibility on when or if documentation is needed. It would also give employers the ability to take disciplinary action when an employee does not comply with notification and documentation provisions of the Act.
Employers were concerned about when earned sick time would start to accrue and how much earned sick time an employee could use during the transition year. The bill ensures that an employee may only be compensated for up to 40 hours of earned sick time during the transition year while allowing an employer to opt for a greater benefit during the transition year if it so chooses.