New Sick Time Law Effects Even Companies With Just a Single Worker

This article is by Laura A. Panos, of the Law Office of Laura A. Panos50 Leonard St. 617-484-9600.

On Nov. 4, Massachusetts voters passed a new law that mandates earned sick time for employees. Beginning on July 1, 2015, employers with 11 or more employees must provide paid sick time, while smaller employers may provide the sick time as unpaid. And the new law doesn’t just affect every employer: all employees, including part-time and temporary workers, are eligible for sick leave.

Under the requirements of the new law, employees may accrue and use up to 40 hours of sick time per calendar year, and may carry over up to 40 hours of unused sick time to the next calendar year. The law also dictates the rate of accrual: employers must provide at least one hour of sick time for every 30 hours worked. Employees may use earned sick time to care for a personal, physical or mental illness, injury or medical condition, or one affecting the employee’s family member. Sick time can also be used to attend medical appointments for the employee or the employee’s family member, or to address the effects of domestic violence on the employee or the employee’s dependent child.

While the details of the new law will not be clear until the Attorney General issues regulations, what is clear is that the law impacts every employer with more than one employee. It is important for smaller employers (those with under 11 employees) to be aware that they will be required to accrue the hours for all employees, even if these sick hours are not to be paid when the employee uses them. Forthcoming regulations will provide further compliance information.

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