Are you ready for the new Massachusetts Sick Leave Law?

The Massachusetts Sick Leave Law will become effective July 1, 2015. All private employers in Massachusetts, regardless of size, must provide up to 40 hours of sick leave to all employees. Employers with one to ten employees must provide sick leave but are not required to pay the employee for sick leave hours. Employers with eleven or more employees must provide paid sick leave.

How is sick leave earned? All employees regardless of status or hours worked will earn one hour of sick time for every 30 hours worked up to a limit of 40 hours per year. Exempt/salary employees are considered to have worked 40 hours per week or the companies regular hours of work per week should this be less than 40 (example: company work week is 36 hours).

Example of Calculation:

Week # Open Balance – Hrs Hours Worked Sick Leave Earned – Hrs Ending Balance – Hrs
1 0 35 1 5
2 5 40 1 15
3 15 40 1 25
4 25 40 2 5


New hires will begin earning sick time on their first day of work. Employers may choose to limit the use of sick time until the 90th day following the hire date.

How does the Carry over requirement work? Under the law employees are allowed to carry over from one year to the next up to a maximum of 40 hours. Employers are not required to pay out sick time at the time of an employee’s termination.

What actions should be taken at this time?

  • Employers should review their current sick leave policies. Existing leave benefits such as vacation, sick personal or PTO allowance can satisfy the requirements of the new law as long as they meet or exceed all requirements of the new law. Current policies that are more generous but accrue sick leave at a slower rate, or exclude temporary or part time employees, or that have a “use it or lose it” rule, or require time to be taken in half day blocks of time, or require medical certification for all time taken would need to be revised to comply with the new law.
  • Employers should ensure a system is in place to calculate and track earned and used sick time by employee including carried over hours.

If you would like to consult with counsel regarding your benefit policies or would like to inquire about setting up or modifying benefit tracking, please call the Symphony office.