“Safe Harbor” Rule for Massachusetts Paid Sick Time Law

Massachusetts voters, on November 4, 2014, approved Ballot Question 4, “Earned Sick Time for Employees.” The new law, which goes into effect on July 1, 2015, requires all private employers to provide employees with up to 40 hours of sick leave during each calendar year.  The law requires this paid sick leave for all employers with 11 or more employees.  For those with 10 or fewer employees, the employer must provide unpaid sick leave.

On May 17, 2015, Maura Healey, the Massachusetts Attorney General, issued a statement that if an employer satisfied a “safe harbor” requirement, the new Massachusetts Paid Sick Time Law would not apply to them until January 1, 2016.  To qualify for the “safe harbor,” an employer must have a policy in place as of May 1, 2015 that allows employees at least 30 hours of paid time off during the 2015 calendar year.  Any paid time off, including but not limited to sick time, counts towards the 30 hours.  Additionally, to qualify, any paid time off an employee takes from July 1, 2015 to December 31, 2015, must be job-protected leave subject to the new law’s non-retaliation and non-interference provisions.

While the “safe harbor” will provide employers who qualify with some breathing room, all employers should review and, if necessary, revise their time-off policies, to ensure compliance with the law by July 1, 2015. If you need any assistance with this please contact us.

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