Wolf Holds Hearing on Mandatory Sick Leave

On this past Tuesday, State Senator Dan Wolf held hearings regarding his recently introduced bill to mandate that all Massachusetts employers offer paid sick leave as a benefit. If passed, the bill would mandate that all businesses provide employees with time off when they are sick or need to care for an ill family member. As Chairman of the Joint Committee on Labor and Workforce Development, Wolf has emerged as a leading proponent for mandating sick leave.

Some of the bill’s requirements:

• Employers with more than 10 employees will be required to allow employees to accrue up to 56 hours of paid sick leave in a calendar year.

• Businesses with 6 to 10 employees will be required to provide a minimum of 40 hours of paid sick time.

• Companies with less than 6 employees will be required to provide a minimum of 40 hours of unpaid sick time.

• The bill calls for employers to carry over any unused sick time however businesses will not be required to allow an employee to use more than 56 hours of paid sick time in a calendar year.

• Employers who already provide employees with paid time off under a pto, vacation, or other paid leave policy “who make available an amount of time sufficient to meet accrual requirements of this section that may be used for the same purposes and under the same conditions as paid sick time are not required to pay additional sick time”.

• If passed by the legislature, the act will take effect within 6 months for employers with 10 or more employees and within 1 year for all other employers.

Opponents of the bill feel have argued that the mandate will make Massachusetts businesses less competitive and worry that the bill would harm the Cape’s many seasonal businesses. Senator Wolf indicated during the hearing that he would be open an amendment that would allow employees to begin accruing sick leave upon hiring however only require that it be paid out to employees who have worked four months on the job.