HR Management & Compliance

New Massachusetts law requires paid sick leave

Voters in Massachusetts approved a law in the November 4 election that requires certain employers to provide paid sick leave. The law takes effect July 1, 2015.

Under the law, Massachusetts employers with at least 11 employees must provide paid sick leave. Employees will accrue paid sick leave beginning July 1, 2015, at the rate of one hour for every 40 hours worked for a maximum of 40 hours of paid sick leave per calendar year. Employees won’t be eligible to take paid leave unless and until they have worked for the employer for 90 days.

In addition to paid leave, the new law means employers with fewer than 11 employees must allow employees to accrue and use up to 40 hours of unpaid sick time per calendar year.

Employees must be allowed to use the sick leave in one-hour increments or the smallest increment that the employer’s payroll system uses to account for absences or use of other time, whichever is smaller. Also, employees must be allowed to carry over up to 40 hours of accrued sick leave from one year to the next, but they aren’t entitled to use more than 40 hours of accrued leave in any calendar year.

The law entitles employees to take paid leave for their own illness, injury, or health condition or the illness, injury, or health condition of a child, spouse, parent, or parent-in-law. Employees also may take the leave to attend routine medical appointments for themselves or for their child, spouse, parent, or parent-in-law.

Also, under the law, employees can use the time to address the psychological, physical, or legal effects of domestic violence.

Employers may require certification from employees’ healthcare providers when they use the time for more than 24 consecutively scheduled work hours. The law also prohibits retaliation against employees for requesting or using earned sick leave, for opposing practices they believe violate the law, or for supporting a coworker’s exercise of rights under the law.

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