About one year ago, Massachusetts became one of only a handful of states that enacted an earned sick time law for employees. Under the law, most Massachusetts employees can earn up to 40 hours of sick time. If you work for an employer with more than 11 employees, this sick time must be paid; if you work for a smaller employer, the time can be unpaid.
Earning Sick Time Off
For every 30 hours you work, you earn one (1) hour of sick time, up to a total of 40 in a year. You begin earning sick time at the beginning of your employment, but can only begin using it 90 days after your start date.
Using Earned Sick Time
You can use sick time to:
- care for yourself, or your child, spouse, parent, or spouse’s parent suffering from a physical or mental condition or injury;
- attend a medical appointment (or an appointment for your child, spouse, parent, or spouse’s parent)
- address the physical, psychological, or legal effects of domestic violence; or
- travel to and from an appointment, a pharmacy, or other location related to the purpose for which the leave was taken.
You must notify your employer in advance before taking sick time, except when the need for the time is unforeseeable (e.g., emergencies or sudden illnesses). Sick time must be used in at least one-hour increments.
Carrying Over Sick Time
You can carry over up to 40 hours of unused sick time each year. Your employer can choose to pay out your 40 hours of earned sick time at the end of the year.
Paying Out Earned Sick Time
After you take sick time, it must be paid out on your next regular pay day and at your normal hourly rate. Employers are not required to pay out your earned and unused sick time at the end of your employment.
If your employer fails to provide you with paid sick time, or fails to pay out your earned sick time at your normal hourly rate, feel free to call us to speak with an attorney about your rights.