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Sick-Time Rules a Mixed Bag for Employers

Posted on April 27, 2015

The following article was written by AIM staff members Lori Bourgoin, Russ Sullivan and Brad MacDougall.

Draft regulations published late Friday by Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey for the new Earned Sick Time law represent a mixed bag for employers.

FourpeopleThe rules are designed to help employers comply with a law currently scheduled to take effect on July 1. AIM has urged policymakers to postpone the effective date until January 1, 2016 since the state’s six planned public hearings on the proposed regulations will leave employers inadequate time to comply with the measure approved by voters in November.

“It is enormously important now for employers to read the proposed regulations and provide comments about what is good and what remains a challenge,” said Brad MacDougall, Vice President of Government Affairs at AIM.

“Employers need to be part of this process since labor unions and other groups will be pushing during the public hearings to make the rules more Draconian.”

AIM has worked since November with employers and with the attorney general to address problems the new law may pose for companies that already provide workers with paid time off.

Most employers will be pleased with the following provisions:

  • The rate of pay for earned sick time for most employees is the employee’s base hourlysalary rate.
  • Employers may choose any consecutive 12-month period as their earned sick time calendar year.
  • Employers may cash out up to 40 hours or earned sick time at the end of the calendar year provided at least 16 hours are left to carry over to the start of the following calendar year.
  • Employers may provide good-attendance rewards and discipline in cases of fraud or abuse of the program.
  • The regulations allow for a transition year in which employers will not be required to provide more than 40 hours of earned paid sick time, and any paid leave given prior to July 1, 2015, will be credited.

Other provisions are disappointing:

  • Earned sick time applies to all employees, including temporary, part time, seasonal employees and interns.
  • Employees with a break in service of less than one year  return to work with full credit for prior service and prior unused accruals.
  • Employees who work in multiple states, but primarily in Massachusetts, will be able to count their non-Massachusetts hours towards their accrual of earned sick time.
  • Employers may not require documentation for earned sick time that is less than 24 consecutive work hours even if the time-off is taken before or after a scheduled holiday.
  • New notices, posters, policies and documentation requirements will need to be established.

The Attorney General’s office will accept comments through June 10 before issuing the final regulations. The six public hearings on earned sick time will be held as follows:

Boston Earned Sick Time Hearing
May 18, 2015 10:30 AM ” 1:30 PM
2nd Floor – Conference Rooms C & D
100 Cambridge Street
Boston, MA 02114

MetroWest Earned Sick Time Hearing
May 22, 2015 10:00 AM ” 1:00 PM
Ablondi Room Framingham Town Hall Memorial Building
150 Concord Street
Framingham, MA 01702

Springfield Earned Sick Time Hearing
May 29, 2015 10:30 AM ” 1:30PM
3rd Floor Community Room
1350 Main Street
Springfield, MA 01103

Berkshire County Earned Sick Time Hearing
May 29, 2015 10:00 AM ” 1:00 PM
Pittsfield City Hall Council Chambers
70 Allen Street Pittsfield, MA 01201

South Coast Earned Sick Time Hearing
June 1, 2015 1:30 PM ” 4:30 PM Hearing Room
1 Government Center
Fall River, MA 02722

Worcester Earned Sick Time Hearing
June 5, 2015 10:00 AM ” 1:00 PM
Main Library Saxe Room
3 Salem Street
Worcester, MA 01608

“We are grateful to the attorney general’s office for producing these draft regulations in such a short period of time. AIM encourages employers to review the proposed rules and to work with our association to ensure they work to everyone’s benefit,” said Richard C. Lord, President and Chief Executive Officer of AIM.

AIM will provide more information on the draft regulations in a webinar on Thursday, April 30 at 10 AM. Members with comments on the regulations should contact MacDougall at