On November 4, 2014, voters approved a referendum to the Massachusetts earned sick leave law that will take effect on July 1, 2015. This will change the conditions of sick leave and the way that both small and large businesses handle it. Here’s what you need to know as an employer, and how to ensure that you’re ready once this law takes effect.
Implications of the Law
Regardless of the size of your business, your employees may earn and use up to 40 hours of sick leave each year. The only question is whether or not it’s paid or unpaid.
- Larger businesses with 11 or more employees must allow their employees to earn and use up to 40 hours of paid sick time.
- Smaller businesses with 10 or fewer employees must allow their employees to earn and use up to 40 hours of unpaid sick time.
For every 30 hours an employee works, they earn one hour of sick time until it maxes out at 40 hours. The moment that a person is hired, they can start accumulating sick time, but they can’t use it until they’ve worked for at least 90 days. You will also be required to display a poster in a noticeable location and give a copy to your employees.
How Sick Time Can Be Used
According to Law360, sick time can be used for the following reasons:
- To care for a physical or mental illness, injury or medical condition affecting the employee or the employee’s parent, child, spouse or spouse’s parents that requires home care, professional medical diagnosis, or preventative medical care.
- To attend routine medical appointments of the employee or a family member.
- To address the psychological, physical or legal effects of domestic violence on the employee or his or her dependent child.
Consequences of Violations
The Attorney General of Massachusetts will enforce this law. If you in any way interfere with an employee using their earned sick time or retaliate against them, then that would be a violation. Under this scenario, you could be hit with up to $25,000 in civil penalties for each violation. On top of this, you could be faced with a lawsuit if an employee chooses to take further action.
This would obviously be a financial nightmare and can lead to a lot of headaches. That’s why it’s important to take the necessary steps to ensure that your business is compliant once the law takes effect on July 1.
How to Prepare
You should start by looking over your existing sick leave policies and see if they are in line with the new law. If your policies aren’t compliant, you will need to make the appropriate changes and notify all managers and superiors. You will also need to come up with an efficient way to track the hours your employees work and ensure that you’re maintaining accurate records at all times.
The new earned sick leave law will bring about considerable changes for many businesses in Massachusetts. Fortunately, there’s time to prepare so that your business will be compliant once the law comes into effect.