AG Publishes Proposed Paid Sick Leave Regulations

The Office of Attorney General Maura Healey (AGO) recently published draft regulations for the new Paid Sick Leave Law that was adopted by voters at the ballot last November. The regulations attempt to address ambiguous provisions of the law and provide employers guidance as to how they are to comply. For the most part, the draft regulations address RAM’s initial concerns submitted to the AGO. However, the regulations themselves may present additional questions.

As RAM determines whether a second round of comments to the AGO is necessary, all employers are strongly urged to review the proposed regulations and provide RAM with questions and concerns. A summary of the law, a copy of Proposed Regulation - 940 C.M.R. 33.00 - Earned Sick Time, and a schedule of public hearings on the matter can be found on the AGO’s website at the following link: http://www.mass.gov/ago/doing-business-in-massachusetts/labor-laws-and-public-construction/earned-sick-time/

Looking to the regulations, RAM is pleased with the provisions that:

Clarify that an employee’s rate of compensation excludes any premium pay required by law for overtime, holiday or Sunday shifts.
Provide employers the discretion to determine the start date of the calendar year to be used in their sick leave policy.
Allow employers to require the use of a full shift of accrued sick time where the employee’s absence from work at a designated time requires the employer to hire a replacement.
Allow employers to require up to seven days advance notice for pre-scheduled or foreseeable absences.
Create a transition year in which sick leave given prior to the effective date may be credited towards the 40 hour requirement.
Provisions that raise concern for RAM include those that:

Define a “break in service” as 12 months from an employee’s last date of actual work. Employees returning to work for the same employer within this period must retain any unused sick time accrued prior to the break.
Allow employees that work in multiple states to be able to accrue sick time for hours worked outside the state.
Prohibit employers from requiring documentation for the need for sick time that is for a period less than 24 consecutive work hours.
As mentioned, the AGO has scheduled a series of six public hearings that run through June 5th and a period of public comment will be open through June 10th. Final regulations are expected soon thereafter giving employers very little time before the July 1st effective date for review and adoption of new policies. Requests for a delay of the effective date to January 1, 2016 have been denied to date, however, members concerned about their ability to comply with the law by July 1, 2015 should contact their legislators to request a delay.

Based on this timing and the extensive work done by the AGO prior to drafting and publishing the regulations, it is believed that the final regulations will vary little from the draft proposal. Employers are therefore advised to begin work on revising their policies to comply with the requirements found in the proposed regulation. Any changes made to the final regulations may then easily be reflected by minor amendments to your draft policy.

In addition to questions and concerns regarding the content of the draft regulations, RAM wants to know whether you believe your business will have enough time to revise, adopt and implement a compliant sick leave policy prior to the July 1st effective date. All comments, questions, and compliance concerns may be submitted through the comment section below or by contacting RAM directly at [email protected].

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