Massachusetts Employers and the Earned Sick Time Law

sick timeThousands of Massachusetts employees who have previously gone without Paid Sick Time will are about to get it.  Last November, Massachusetts voters passed legislation with an overwhelming voice to force Commonwealth employers who weren’t paying for sick time to step up.  In theory this seemed like a no-brainer.  As an employer, if people are genuinely sick I want them to stay home and get well.  However, nothing in Massachusetts is ever just that simple and when it’s mixed with employment law it can get a little hairy.

Here’s the basic problem at the moment. The vote was cast in November, but the Attorney General Office did not issue the regulations on what was expected of employers and how to implement until the very last days of April with an implementation date of July 1st.  With just two months from regulations to implementation, many employers are left with questions, confusion and very little time to implement.

Over the next several weeks, a series of six public hearings will be held to field comments from all interested parties. Given that there will be six hearings, my guess is that the Attorney General may be anticipating some lively discussion.

A number of employers are in support of a movement to simply push off the implementation date of the law to give employers more time to make sure the program runs smoothly. As an active member of our local business community I have spoken with several business owners, many of who are in staffing, and all are in support of the spirit of the law. In fact I have not found one employer that has said they don’t think employees should have paid sick time. What I am hearing is an overwhelming frustration with the huge delay in getting the regulations that were needed to help employers abide by that law.

It remains to be seen what, if anything will come from the hearings. I do think if you are an employer in Massachusetts and you are struggling to meet the demands of the law then you need to step up.  Stay active, get involved and have a voice.  If you want more information on the hearings or how to get involved, click here.  http://www.mass.gov/ago/docs/regulations/proposed/940-cmr-33-notice.pdf

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