Massachusetts Voters Pass Question 4 Requiring All Employers to Provide Sick-Time Leave to Employees

On November 4, 2014, Massachusetts voters approved a ballot measure requiring employers to provide paid sick leave.  The measure, which goes into effect on July 1, 2015, requires all Massachusetts employers to provide up to forty hours of sick-time leave each calendar year to every employee regardless of whether they are a full-time, part-time, or temporary employee.  For employers with ten or fewer employees, that leave may be unpaid.

What Can Sick-Time Leave be Used For

The statute allows employees to use their earned sick-time for any of the following reasons:

  • Care for the employee’s physical or mental health;
  • Care for the physical or mental health of the employee’s child, spouse, parent, or spouse’s parent;
  • Attending medical appointments for the employee or the employee’s child, spouse, parent, or spouse’s parent; or
  • Addressing the psychological, physical, or legal effects of domestic violence.

Employers may require the employee to obtain a healthcare provider’s certification of need if the leave will last longer than twenty-four consecutive hours.

How Employees Accrue Sick-Time Leave

Employees will begin accruing sick-time leave on July 1, 2015, at a rate of one hour for every thirty hours worked.  New employees, hired after July 1, 2015, will begin accruing sick-time leave on their first day of work, but are prohibited from using any accrued leave until after their ninetieth day of work.  Employees can carry over up to 40 hours of unused sick-time to the next calendar year, but are not entitled to use more than 40 hours in one calendar year.  Additionally, employers are not required to compensate employees for unused accrued sick-time hours at the end of the calendar year or the separation of employment.

HR Concerns

All employers should immediately examine their existing policies to determine whether they are in compliance with the new law.

If you have any questions on how to bring your employment policies and practices up to date, or have any employment law concerns, please contact Nicholas Soivilien, the author of this Alert at 617 456 8097 or nsoivilien@PrinceLobel.com, or Daniel S. Tarlow, chair of the firm’s Employment Practice Group at 617 456 8013 or dtarlow@PrinceLobel.com.