Law Generally Effective July 1, 2015

We have been keeping a close eye on the Massachusetts proposed earned sick time law as it will impact businesses of all sizes in the state of Massachusetts. The Massachusetts Office of the Attorney General has issued final regulations concerning the state’s Earned Sick Time Law, which is generally effective July 1, 2015. 


  Under the state’s earned sick leave law, most employers will be required to provide up to 40 hours of paid or unpaid sick time per calendar year to employees, as follows:

  • Employers that employ 11 or more employees must provide paid sick time.
    • Note: All employees performing work for compensation on a full-time, part-time, or temporary basis are to be counted.
  • All employees not entitled to paid sick time under the law are generally entitled to unpaid sick time.

Employers generally must provide a minimum of one hour of sick time for every 30 hours worked by an employee. Under the law, an employee begins accruing earned sick time starting with his or her date of hire or July 1, 2015, whichever is later.

Final Regulations

  Highlights from the final regulations include the following: Employer Size

  • An employer must provide earned paid sick time to all eligible employees if the employer maintained an average of 11 or more employees on the payroll during the preceding benefit year.
    • Employers must determine the average number of employees by counting the number of employees (including full-time, part-time, seasonal, and temporary employees) on the payroll during each pay period and dividing by the number of pay periods.
    • Employees furnished to an employer by a temporary staffing agency and paid by the staffing agency count as employees of both the staffing agency and the employer for the purpose of determining employer size.
  • All of an employer’s employees (including full-time, part-time, seasonal, and temporary employees), whether working in or outside Massachusetts and regardless of their eligibility to accrue and use earned sick time, must be counted for the purpose of determining employer size.
  • Employers must notify all eligible employees at least 30 days in advance in writing if earned sick time will be changing from paid to unpaid or from unpaid to paid sick time based on a change in employer size.

Allowable Substitution of Employers’ Paid Leave Policies

  • Employers may have their own sick leave or paid time off policies, and may have different paid leave policies for different groups of employees—so long as all employees can use at least the same amount of time, for the same purposes, under the same conditions, and with the same job protections provided under the law.
  • Employers that prefer not to track accrual of sick time over the course of the benefit year may also use the following schedules for providing lump sums of sick leave or paid time off to their employees.
    • Employers using these schedules will be in compliance even if an employee’s hours vary from week to week.
    • Employers may accelerate the accrual or increase hours if they choose. Employees accruing earned sick time on these schedules will have the right to rollover their sick leave up to 40 hours and accrual may be delayed while an employee maintains an unused bank of 40 hours. For employees working an average of:
      • 37.5 – 40 hours per week, provide 8 hours per month for 5 months.
      • 30 hours per week, provide 5 hours per month for 8 months.
      • 24 hours per week, provide 4 hours per month for 10 months.
      • 20 hours per week, provide 4 hours per month for 9 months.
      • 16 hours per week, provide 3 hours per month for 10 months.
      • 10 hours per week, provide 2 hours per month for 10 months.
      • 5 hours per week, provide 1 hour per month for 10 months.

Documentation of Use of Earned Sick Time

  • An employer may require written documentation for an employee’s use of earned sick time that:
    • Exceeds 24 consecutively scheduled work hours;
    • Exceeds 3 consecutive days on which the employee was scheduled to work;
    • Occurs within 2 weeks prior to an employee’s final scheduled day of work before termination of employment (except in the case of temporary employees);
    • Occurs after 4 unforeseeable and undocumented absences within a 3-month period; or
    • For employees aged 17 and under, occurs after 3 unforeseeable and undocumented absences within a 3-month period.
  • Click here for information concerning appropriate and prohibited forms of documentation (§ 33.06).

The regulations also outline comprehensive standards regarding (among other things) accrual and use of sick time, notice of use of earned sick time, and documentation/recordkeeping requirements. Affected employers are advised to read the regulations in their entirety. Click here to read the text of the regulations. Information and guidance regarding a safe harbor for certain employers are also available.

We also encourage you to review several other pieces regarding tax credits for small businesses, and on a national level, the final regulations of employer “pay or play” mandates. The NARFA Blog is regularly updated with important legislative and compliance news to keep you current with the best and most relevant information affecting your business. Compliance is the name of the game right now, and NARFA has worked hard to keep ALL of our employee benefits solutions fully compliant with the Affordable Care Act, and rapidly changing legislative landscape. We have done the heavy lifting for you, so you can focus on what you do best.

Please contact us with questions or to learn more about our best in class programs. Since 1929 we have continued to retain and grow our membership base.



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