Massachusetts voters may recall Question 4 on the 2014 election ballot last November, regarding whether or not employees should be able to earn and use a certain amount of sick time per year. Although the question was opposed by several business organizations and chambers of commerce, the measure passed and is now law.
Effective July 1, 2015, those who work for businesses employing 11 or more workers can earn up to 40 hours of paid sick time annually. Those who work for smaller companies can earn the same amount of sick time, but the hours will be unpaid.
The Provisions of the New Law
The new law is codified at Massachusetts General Laws ch. 149, §§ 148C and 148D and covers employees who work for individuals, corporations, partnerships, and other entities, but it does not include those who work for the federal government or those employed by towns or cities within the state of Massachusetts. (Cities and towns can participate in the law by vote or appropriation, if they so choose.)
Employees who earn sick time can use their time to care for their own illness (physical or mental), injury, or medical condition. They can also use their time to care for a child, spouse, parent, or spouse’s parent, or to address the effects of domestic violence. Sick time can be used for home care, professional care, or preventative care.
Under the law, sick time is earned at the rate of one hour per 30 hours worked, but the time may not be used until an employee has been on the job at least 90 days. After that time, the time may be used as it accrues. Employers may chose to allow the time to accrue sooner or be used sooner, if they like.
How the Law Can Help Massachusetts Workers
The most obvious benefits of the law are that employees who have earned enough sick time hours can leave work early to care for a sick child, schedule a dental appointment for themselves, or accompany an elderly parent to the doctor without fear of being fired.
For those who qualify for the paid version of sick time by virtue of being employed by a business with 11 or more employees, the law provides a 40-hour safety net that would have otherwise been unpaid. For those living paycheck-to-paycheck while raising children or caring for a parent, this is a very welcome benefit. For those who must miss time from work due to a car accident or other personal injury, the law will be helpful in that it will allow for recovery time and time for follow-up medical care, both of which were typically unpaid prior to the law.
Of course, people who are hurt or who get sick on the job in Massachusetts generally have the option of seeking workers’ compensation benefits. This is a no-fault system of insurance in which most employers are required to participate. A workers’ compensation lawyer may be critical in pursuing this type of claim after a workplace accident. An attorney can help you explain why you are eligible for permanent and total, temporary and total, or partial disability benefits, or make a persuasive argument on why you should receive assistance based on the aggravation of a pre-existing condition.
If You Need to Speak to a Massachusetts Attorney about a Workers’ Compensation Case
If you or a family member had been involved in an accident, the Law Office of John C. Manoog, III can assist you with your workplace accident claim, car accident case, or other injury claim. To schedule an appointment, dial (888) 262-6664 and ask for a free initial consultation. Our offices are conveniently located in Hyannis and Plymouth, but we accept cases arising throughout Massachusetts. Most injury cases are accepted on a contingency fee arrangement, so no legal fees are required until the case is completed.
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