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Ask the Hotline | Attorney General Reviews Sick-Time Practices

May 21, 2019
 
 
Q. I heard that the attorney general’s office sent letters to employers regarding the earned sick-time law. Is that true and do you know what they are about? 
 
A. Some employers report receiving such letters. It appears the attorney general’s office is reviewing employer sick-leave policies and practices to ensure compliance with the 2015 earned sick-time law.
 
As it happens, Attorney General Maura Healy keynoted last week’s AIM annual meeting and members of the AIM team had an opportunity to talk with members of her staff, including the people who work on the sick-leave law. 
 
It seems for the time being that the attorney general is focused on ensuring that employers have an earned sick-time policy in place and are complying with it. 
 
The earned sick time law was passed in late 2014 by referendum vote. The law took effect on July 1, 2015 so it is nearing its four-year anniversary.  The law requires all employers with 11 or more employees to provide up to 40 hours per year of paid time off for any of the following five reasons:
  • care for an employee’s child, spouse, parent, or parent of a spouse, who is suffering from a physical or mental illness, injury, or medical condition that requires home care, professional medical diagnosis or care, or preventative medical care;
  • care for an employee’s own physical or mental illness, injury, or medical condition that requires home care, professional medical diagnosis or care, or preventative medical care; 
  • attend a routine medical appointment or a routine medical appointment for the employee’s child, spouse, parent, or parent of spouse; 
  • address the psychological, physical 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 time was taken.
While not required to have a policy, employers must notify their employees of their rights under the law. Therefore, employers are strongly urged to adopt a policy to ensure that they have effectively communicated to all employees their rights under the law.
 
AIM has a model policy available on its on-line resource center as does the attorney general
 
Employers not wishing to use a policy may download the earned sick-time poster from the AG’s website. 
It is also important to remember that the definition of employee is broad under the sick-leave law and includes full-time, part-time, seasonal and temporary workers. 
 
Employers should also track employee use of sick time. There are forms available on both websites for this was well. 
 
The more consistent your company’s sick-leave practice, the easier it will be to respond to a letter from the attorney general’s office. It can also help to avoid receiving such a letter in the first place. 
 
If you have questions about the earned sick time or would like to make sure your policy follows the law, please contact the AIM HR Solutions group. 
 
Members with questions about this or other HR-related issues may contact the AIM Hotline at 1-800-470-6277.
 
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