Public Law

Updates on Public Law in Massachusetts from Anderson & Kreiger LLP

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State’s New Earned Sick Time Law Does Not Automatically Apply to Municipalities

Massachusetts’ new earned sick time law, which takes effect on July 1, does not apply to municipal employees (or other public employees) until the city or town has accepted it either by vote or by the appropriation of money, according to the AG’s recently published final regulations. The state constitution prohibits imposing employment costs on towns without such acceptance.

How the Law Works

Under the new law, M.G.L. c. 149, § 148C, covered employees will be able to use up to 40 hours (roughly a week) of paid sick time per calendar year. Employees will earn one hour of sick time for every 30 hours they work beginning on July 1, 2015 (or on the date of hire for employees hired after that date). They may begin using earned sick time 90 days after they are hired.

Employees may use earned sick time for three purposes: recovery from injury or illness (including mental illness), attending routine medical appointments, or addressing the effects of domestic violence. They may use the time not only for themselves, but also to care for injured or ill relatives (children, spouses, parents or parents in-law), to take a relative to an appointment, or to address the effects of domestic violence on their dependent children.

New Issue on the Collective Bargaining Front?

To the extent that municipalities do not already offer earned sick leave, this law may raise sick leave as an issue in collective bargaining negotiations with public employees unions. Although it does not automatically apply, a city or town can voluntarily subject itself to the law by vote or appropriation – making it a potential bargaining chip.

Image CreditThe Sick Woman, by Jan Havicksz Steen (Photograph by Dennis Jarvis).

About the Author

Nina L. Pickering-Cook – Partner

Nina helps public and private sector clients navigate issues relating to real estate, construction, land use and public law, including litigation where necessary.


About the Author

Arthur P. Kreiger – Partner

Art has more than 30 years of experience in all types of environmental and land use matters.


Posted In: Employment

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