On June 19, 2015, the Massachusetts Attorney General published the final regulations concerning the new Earned Sick Time (“EST”) law that will go into effect on July 1, 2015. These final regulations differ somewhat from the draft regulations submitted in April and provide clarification and additional detail to aid with implementation.
Under the EST law, all employees in Massachusetts must be allowed to accrue and use up to 40 hours of EST in a calendar year, subject to certain conditions set forth in the law and the regulations. Under the previously announced “safe harbor” provision, companies that utilized a policy under which certain employees received at least 30 hours of paid time off as of May 1, 2015 will be deemed compliant relative to those employees and any other employees to whom the policy is extended on a proportional basis. Additionally, starting July 1, all use of time, whether under the law itself or under the safe harbor provision, must be job protected and is subject to the law’s anti-interference and anti-retaliation provisions. A summary of the law can be found here.
Key Changes And Distinctions Between The Draft And Final Regulations
EST May Run Concurrently With FMLA
The final regulations state that EST may run concurrently with leave under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act and other state leave laws. The draft regulations had stated that EST must be “in addition to” FMLA and other state leaves.
Additional “Travel Time” EST Use Added
The law provides four purposes for which sick time may be used: care for a physical or mental illness, injury or medical condition; caring for a close family member with such a condition; attending medical appointments; and addressing the effects of domestic violence. The final regulations add a fifth category: EST may be used for “travel to and from an appointment, a pharmacy, or other location related to the purpose for which time was taken.”
“Same Hourly Rate” Defined
The law states that EST must be paid at “the same hourly rate” as the employee would earn for their work. Given the numerous ways employees can be compensated outside of an “hourly rate,” the final regulations set out more specifically how this “same hourly rate” should be calculated:
- hourly employees are paid their regular hourly rate; those who earn two or more rates are paid an average “blended rate” based on their previous pay period;
salaried employees are paid a rate based on the total compensation divided by hours worked in the previous pay period. For exempt salaried employees working 40 hours or more per week, the employer can assume 40 hours rather than using actual hours worked. However, employers cannot make that assumption for exempt salaried employees regularly working less than 40 hours per week or salaried non-exempt employees;
employees paid on a piece-work or fee-for-service basis must be paid “a reasonable calculation of the wages or fees the employee would have received” for the work if the employee had worked;
commissioned employees, whether commission-only or base rate plus commission, must be paid the greater of their base wage or the minimum wage; and
tipped employees must be paid the minimum wage.
Alternative Accrual Schedule
The final regulations provide Continue reading