5 facts to know about the MA Paid Sick Leave Law
Last month, Massachusetts became the third state to require statewide paid sick leave, along with California and Connecticut. Beginning July 1, 2015, all private and public sector employers must provide employees with up to 40 hours of sick leave per calendar year. Read on for five important action items for employers to consider in preparation for the new law.
- Determine whether or not your employees will be entitled to paid or unpaid sick leave
Employers with 11 or more employees are required to provide paid sick leave, while those with less than 11 employees must offer unpaid sick leave. While the law requires employers to include all full-time, part-time and temporary employees, it does not provide specifics about how these calculations should be performed. For example, the law does not specify when employee calculations must be made (which affects employers with a seasonal workforce), nor does it specify whether employers must include employees who work outside of Massachusetts. The Massachusetts Attorney General is expected to address these issues between now and July 1, 2015.
- Ensure that proper tracking systems & communication strategies are in place
Under the law, employers must post a multi-lingual notice from the Attorney General, as well as provide employees with copies of the notice. Employers are required to maintain records of sick leave for at least two years after each pay period. These records will be open to inspection by the Attorney General, as well as available to individual employees at reasonable times and places.
- Make sure managers/supervisors/HR/payroll employees are trained and up to speed on the new law and it’s requirements
Employers should make sure all managers, supervisors and HR personnel are properly trained and aware of the new law’s requirements, particularly those who handle payroll and employee absences. These are the front line people who will be responsible for answering questions, administering the tracking, and communicating with all employees on the new policy.
- Review and revise (if necessary) current sick leave & PTO policies
Employers with paid time-off plans that are equivalent or more generous than the new law are not required to provide additional paid sick time. However, it’s important to ensure their policies comply with the new law’s requirements, including a review of carryover, cap and usage provisions. It’s also important to review overall attendance & anti-retaliation policies.
- Review their overall “Absence Management” strategy to ensure it’s in line with the company’s philosophy and goals.
Without a firm strategy in place, employers risk being negatively impacted by lost productivity and/or increased compliance exposure. The following programs assist employers with proper absence management:
- Group Disability Plans: a group disability program not only protects an employee’s income in the event they are unable to work due to illness or accidental injury, but it also helps manage the claims and assists employees returning to work through the use of vocational rehab.
- FML Administration: Employers with more than 50 employees are required to allow employees up to 12 or 26 work weeks (in a defined 12 month period) of unpaid job protected leave for specified family and medical reasons. It’s important that employers have a process in place for tracking and approving family medical leaves for their employees. If not administered properly, the employer could be subject to fines by the DOL.
- Employee Assistance Program: An employee assistance program can be a useful tool for employees who may be out for the same reasons that trigger the required sick leave to be utilized. It can help supplement a group disability plan’s return to work and rehab program for the employee, help employees navigate through the process of taking care of a sick family member, or assist in dealing with the adverse effects of domestic violence.
WGA will continue to provide updates on the law as new details are announced, and please click here to learn more.
About the Author
David DelGallo is an Assistant Vice President at WGA in the Employee Benefits group, specializing in the design and management of Employer Health & Welfare Plans.