Under Massachusetts’ Earned Sick Time law, most employees who perform work in Massachusetts for private and nonprofit employers are entitled to accrue paid time off that can be used for the sick and safe purposes described by the law. Employers must either:
- Allow employees to accrue at least one (1) hour of paid sick leave per thirty (30) hours worked, or;
- Grant forty (40) hours of paid sick leave for the year up front.
Employers are not required to permit employees to accrue or use more than 40 hours of paid sick leave annually. Employers must allow carryover, but are not required to allow the carryover of more than 40 hours of paid sick leave from one benefit year to the next.
Notice of Employee Rights
Employers need to display the Notice of Employee Rights in a location visible to all their employees in Massachusetts, and
- give a copy of the notice to each worker, or
- include the employer's sick time policy in any handbook or manual.
Uses of Paid Sick Leave
Massachusetts employees may use paid sick leave if they are ill or injured or have a routine medical appointment. They can also use earned sick time for their child, spouse, parent, or spouse's parent for the same purposes. In addition, workers may use earned sick time to deal with domestic violence involving themselves or their children.
Limitations on Paid Sick Leave
Employers with 11 or more employees must provide paid sick leave. Those with fewer than 11 employees must also provide sick leave, but it can go unpaid.
An employer is not required to pay out accrued, unused paid sick time when an employee separates from employment with the employer. However, if you are providing paid sick time through your general PTO policy, you will need to pay out all of an employee’s accrued, unused PTO upon separation from employment.
- Earned Sick Time FAQs
- Do you qualify for Earned Sick Time?
- Does your employer’s policy follow the law?
Setting up a compliant policy
Employers are required to set up a policy that meets the minimum Massachusetts requirements. Massachusetts' paid sick leave law outlines the different methods for accruing and paying sick leave time that will satisfy the law’s accrual requirements.
Setting up a “front-load” policy may be the most administratively simple approach. In a “front-load” approach, you grant the minimum upfront amount required by the corresponding jurisdiction. You can set up a policy in Justworks by following the directions here.
MA Attorney General's Fair Labor Division: Sample MA Earned Sick Time Policy
This material has been prepared for informational purposes only, and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, legal or tax advice. If you have any legal or tax questions regarding this content or related issues, then you should consult with your professional legal or tax advisor.