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MA Earned Sick Time Law

Seasonal, temporary, and per diem employees (including paid interns) are eligible to accrue MA sick time. An employee retains the right to use any accrued sick time after a break in service, whether voluntary or not, for up to one year from the last date of work if the employee returns to work.

Suggested Employee Verification Form Regarding Authorized Use of Earned Sick Time

The much anticipated final rules were released by the AG's office, taking into consideration many of the issues raised by AIM and businesses across the state. Some of the changes included in the final ruling include:

Among the issues of interest to employers in the final regulations:

  • An employer may require documentation for absence that exceeds three consecutive days; that occurs within two weeks of leaving a position; after four unforeseeable absences in a three- month period; or after three unforeseeable absences in a three-month period for employees 17 or under.
  • Employees using earned sick time are compensated at their regular rate of pay, plus any shift differential. Overtime and contributions to health insurance or other benefits are excluded.


  • Employees with multiple rates of pay may be compensated for earned sick time either at the rate that would have applied on the date of absence or at a blended rate calculated on the prior pay period, month, quarter or other period of time.


  • Piecework employees accrue sick time through a reasonable projection of hours worked based on established practices or billing.


  • An employee may not accept a shift assignment with the intention of calling out sick for all or part of the shift.


  • The employer may discipline employees for clear pattern of using earned sick time before or after weekends or holidays.


  • The minimum increment of time for using earned sick time is one hour, though employers may use fractions of an hour for time more than an hour if their payroll system can track such fractions.


  • Employers that provide 40 hours of paid time off in a lump sum at the start of the year do not have to track accruals or allow the carryover of earned sick time from year to year, provided the use of the time is consistent with earned sick time.


  • Employers may opt to delay accruals of earned sick time for employees with a bank of 40 hours until the bank is reduced below 40 hours.


  • Employers that choose to offer time off through a paid time-off or vacation policy that complies with the earned sick time law do not have to track and keep a separate record of earned sick time use.


  • Employers using existing paid time-off policies must ensure that all used time enjoys the same job protection. The employer may have different policies for different groups of employees as long as all employees accrue and use same amount of time under same conditions.
  • The accrual rate is 1 hour of sick time for every 30 hours worked; (includes full-time, part-time, seasonal, temporary and per diem employees, as well as paid interns)


  • Employers with 11 or more employees must provide Paid sick time; Employers with less than 11 employees can pay for this, but are not required to do so


  • Multi-state operating companies (MA and other states) must add total employees together to see if earend sick time for their MA-based employees should be paid or unpaid; i.e. 1 employee in MA, 20 in NH; that one MA employees' sick time would be paid because the total is over 11 employees

See the AIM blog for more details on these points

See this website for the entire MA Gov Earned Sick Time Summary of the law

MA Attorney General's suggested posting for earned sick time law for businesses

How the MA Sick Leave Law Came About

Massachusetts voters approved a ballot question on November 4 mandating that employers with 11 or more workers provide 40 hours of paid sick time. Companies with fewer than 11 employees will be required to provide 40 hours of unpaid sick time.

The Impact of the MA Sick Leave Law on Businesses

The law has touched off a wave of concern among employers who say that the 75 days remaining until July 1 do not provide them enough time to understand the yet-to-be-published regulations and to program payroll systems to account for the new law. One employer who already has a sick-leave policy in place reports that he needs at least 120 days to work with his payroll company to make the necessary programing changes.

Employers also face a litany of time-consuming administrative issues. For example, an employee who used to accrue 15 days of Paid Time Off (PTO) prorated over each payroll now will accrue 10 days of PTO prorated over each payroll and up to five days of Earned Sick Time (EST) accrued at one hour for every 30 hours worked. And re-characterizing existing time off from accrued PTO to EST may lead to an excess accrual and payout before July 1 to avoid loss of earned time that may not be carried over in excess of 40 hours.

“Massachusetts employers deeply appreciate the effort by Senator Rodrigues to provide adequate time to companies to meet their obligations under a complex new law. AIM worked hard on behalf of its 7,500 member employers to resolve these issues and we are disappointed that the Senate did not act,” said John Regan, Executive Vice President of Government Affairs for AIM.

The proposed delay drew heavy opposition from organized labor, which paid for advertisements saying “Stop the attack on earned sick time for working families.”