The July 1, 2015 effective date for the new Sick Leave law is rapidly approaching. Earlier this week, the Massachusetts Attorney General’s office held the first in a series of public hearing sessions concerning the new law. Among other things, the Attorney General’s office confirmed that the law would go into effect on July 1, 2015, as planned, and that the proposed Regulations issued earlier this month were on track to be finalized by June 19, 2015.
Additionally, the Attorney General’s office also announced a “Safe Harbor” period which would delay full implementation of the law for certain employers. The “Safe Harbor” provision allows certain businesses with existing paid time off policies to be deemed in compliance with the new law while those businesses work toward fully integrating the new law’s provisions into their own existing leave policies. The “Safe Harbor” will be in effect from July 1, 2015 to December 31, 2015. During that period, an employer will be deemed in compliance with the new law if:
(a) the employer already has a paid time off policy which has been in place since at least May 1, 2015;
(b) the existing policy allows employees to use at least 30 hours of paid time off during the calendar year 2015; and
(c) the existing policy allows employees to use at least 30 hours of paid time off under the same conditions as the new law.
To receive protection under the “Safe Harbor” provision, any paid time off (including sick time) used must be “job protected leave” protected by the new law’s non-retaliation and non-interference provisions. In all other respects, during this transition period the employer may continue to administer its existing paid time off under policy without making additional changes. At the end of the “Safe Harbor” period (i.e., January 1, 2016), all employers must be in full compliance with the law as written.