An Act Establishing Earned Paid Sick Time

Summary

Requires employers to provide earned sick time to employees; earned sick time will accrue at one hour for every 30 hours worked,commencing with the date of hire; requires employers with fewer than 6 employees to provide a minimum of 40 hours of earned unpaid sick time; requires employers with 6 to 10 employees to provide up to 40 hours of paid earned sick time; requires employers with more than 10 employees to provide up to 56 hours of paid earned sick time; defines purposes for which such earned sick time may be used; authorizes the attorney general to enforce these requirements and to issue regulations implementing the new provisions.

 

Lead Sponsors

Representative Kay Khan

Senator Dan Wolf

Background

Nearly 1 million hard working people in Massachusetts—almost one-third of our workers—are forced to go to work sick because they can’t risk losing their jobs and the wages their families need.

Earned Sick Time Helps Save Money and Boost The Economic Recovery

  • Earned sick time would save $23.4 million by cutting emergency room visits in half, with $13.8 million in savings to public health insurance programs.
  • Earned sick time strengthens the economy by keeping workers in their jobs. Economists say job retention policies like earned sick time help reduce unemployment and strengthen the economy.

Earned Sick Time Is Good For Families

  • Earned sick time will allow workers to care for their children and other family members when they’re sick.
  • Nearly one in four workers (23%) report that they have been fired, suspended, punished or threatened with being fired for taking time off due to personal illness or to care for a sick relative, and one in six workers (16%) have been fired.
  • With earned sick time, workers will not have to choose between being a good employee and a good parent.
  • Earned sick time promote fairness, 67% of workers without earned sick time make less than 24,000 a year. Low-income workers shouldn’t be punished when they are sick or have to take care of a sick family member.

Earned Sick Time Is Good For Small Business

  • Earned sick time reduces employee turnover, contagion and lost productivity – a $26 million annual net-benefit for employers, or  $0.95 per worker per week.
  • Earned sick time reduces on the job injuries directly caused by presenteeism, the practice of going to work sick
  • Earned sick time reduces the spread of the flu, a contagious illness that accounts for 10-12% of all illness-related workplace absences thus minimizing contagion to co-workers.

Earned Sick Time Protects Public Health

  • Earned sick time prevents over 33,000 flu transmissions in the workplace, saving employees and their families more than $13.8 million in lost wages and medical costs.
  • Earned sick time prevents food and beverage contamination.
  • Earned sick time protects the most vulnerable among us, by preventing the spread of illnesses at hospitals, nursing homes, day care centers and schools

How Earned Sick Time Works

Employees would earn 1 hour of sick time for every 30 hours worked, beginning with their date of hire:

  • Employees in companies with fewer than 6 employees can earn up to 40 hours of unpaid, job-protected sick time per year;
  • Employees in companies with 6 to 10 employees can earn up to 40 hours of paid sick time per year;
  • Employees in companies with 11 or more employees can earn up to 56 hours of paid sick time per year.

Employees may use time to:

  • Care for themselves, their child, spouse, parent, or parent of spouse.
  • Recover from illness, injury or health condition that requires staying home or professional medical care.
  • Attend preventative medical appointments and manage chronic disease.
  • Seek support to escape or recover from domestic violence.

Earned Sick Time Protects Small Business And Protects Jobs

  • Employers may ask for a doctor’s note for any absence that exceeds 24 consecutive scheduled work hours.
  • Employers and employees can work together to agree on shift or hour changes to avoid the use of sick time.
  • Employees cannot cash out unused sick time upon separation from employment or extended leave.
  • Seasonal employers have the option of providing paid or unpaid, job-protected sick time.
  • Employees are paid their usual hourly rate for sick time, but not less than the state’s minimum wage.
  • Employers with policies that provide earned sick time consistent with the Paid Sick Time Act can continue using their own policies.
  • Unused sick time can be carried over at the end of a year, up to the maximum benefit provided under the Act for  any 12 month period, unless an employer allows its employees to carry over more unused sick time.

Current Status

Referred to Joint Committee on Labor and Workforce Development.  Hearing held on September 24, 2013.

Raise Up MA is moving to put this issue on the ballot in 2014.  Read more about the campaign.

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