Employers that already offer paid sick time will get temporary reprieve from new state law


This originally ran in the Boston Business Journal

By Eric Convey, Boston Business Journal

Employers that already offered paid sick time to employees as of May 1 will be exempted from some provisions of the new voter-approved sick time law that takes effect July 1, Attorney General Maura Healey is set to announce tomorrow.

Healey reached the agreement for what she is calling a "safe harbor" period in discussions with representatives of business groups. Employers had complained that complying with new regulations midway through the year would be disruptive. Some had called for a delay in implementing the new law.

"This new provision accomplishes two things," Healey said in a prepared statement released by her staff Sunday night. "First, it continues to ensure that the nearly 1 million Massachusetts workers currently without access to earned sick time will receive that important protection starting on July 1, as the voters intended. Second, it gives the businesses and non-profits that have already been offering earned sick time to their employees slightly more time to update their systems without fear of legal action."

Healey added: "This action is the result of extensive conversations with workers and businesses. It is a reasonable step that gives all workers access to earned sick time by July 1 while giving businesses that have already been doing the right thing more time as they move into compliance with the new law."

Richard C. Lord, President and Chief Executive Officer of Associated Industries of Massachusetts, said in a prepared statement: “The provision represents a reasonable compromise that will allow employers already offering sick leave some breathing room to implement the new law. Attorney General Healey deserves tremendous credit for responding to the concerns of employers seeking to understand a complex new law and to comply with its provisions in a responsible manner. Employers look forward to continued discussions with the attorney general as she develops final regulations for earned sick time."

Healey is set to address her decision at a hearing Monday morning.

The official language Healey's office is putting in place reads:

"For the period July 1 to December 31, 2015, any employer with a paid time off policy in existence as of May 1, 2015, providing to employees the right to use at least 30 hours of paid time off during the calendar year 2015 shall be in compliance with the law with respect to those employees and to any other employees to whom the use of at least 30 hours of paid time off under the same conditions are extended.

"To remain in compliance, any paid time off, including sick time, used by an employee from July 1 to December 31, 2015, must be job protected leave subject to the law’s non-retaliation and non-interference provisions. In all other respects, during this transition period, the employer may continue to administer paid time off under policies in place as of May 1, 2015.

"On or before January 1, 2016, all employers operating under this safe harbor provision must adjust their paid time off policy to conform with the earned sick time law."

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