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Revised Massachusetts Earned Sick Time Law Safe Harbor and Notice to Employees

The MA Attorney general posted last week on its web site a revised safe harbor for employers with existing paid time off policies.  These revisions directly address use of the safe harbor by employers that have some employees who do not currently receive a paid leave/sick benefit under the employer’s existing paid time off policy.

The revised safe harbor also clarifies that employers opting to use the safe harbor may also choose full compliance with the Earned Sick Time law and regulations beginning July 1, 2015 for some or all employees — which would include the ability to create a separate EST compliant plan for employees who do not currently receive a paid leave/sick benefit under the employer’s existing paid time off policy.

NOTICE TO EMPLOYEES ALSO RELEASED

Also today, the AG released the English-language version of the “Notice to Employees.” The statute requires that employers “shall post this notice in a conspicuous location accessible to employees in every establishment where employees with rights under this section work, and shall provide a copy to their employees.”

The Notice to Employees is now available for download on the Attorney General’s Earned Sick Time website: www.mass.gov/ago/earnedsicktime. Notices in other languages will be coming soon.

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Mass. Parental Leave Act (PLA)

Mass. Parental Leave Act (PLA) replaces the Maternity Leave Act (MMLA) to add Paternity and other new provisions

Key terms and conditions about PLA that you need to know:

  • PLA is effective April 7, 2015 for all Mass. Employers with 6 or more employees,
  • Requires equal treatment of male and female employees,
  • Provides up to a minimum of 8 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave for full-time employee-parents:
    • o   At the time of childbirth or adoption, and
    • o   When a child is placed pursuant to a court order.
  • Important nuances of the law that you also need to know include:
    • o   Employees cannot be required to use accrued sick, vacation or other paid time off (PTO) during this time although they may voluntarily elect to do so.
    • o   Should both parents be employed by the same company, the same 8 week minimum leave will concurrently apply to both.
    • o   Employee date of eligibility cannot exceed three months from date of hire, with or without a probationary period.
    • o   If you do not intend to permit such a leave to extend beyond 8 weeks, you must notify your employee, in writing, before the leave begins. Failure to do so may automatically extend the leave beyond 8 weeks.
    • o   Employees desiring such a leave must provide you with at least two weeks’ advanced written notice, or as soon as practicable, if such notice is beyond the employee’s control.
  • For employers with 50 or more employees who come under the Family Medical Leave Act, the 8 weeks leave covered under the PLA may be counted concurrently with the first 8 weeks of the FMLA’s 12 week leave period.
  • You must be sure to post proper notice of employee rights and your company’s policy under the PLA at all job locations.
  • You need to be sure to update your policies and procedures and effectively communicate with and train all those in a position to have any impact on the proper administration of the PLA at your company.
  • Employees on approved PLA leaves must be restored to the same or similar position with the same status, pay, seniority, and other such conditions as existed for the position held prior to going out on leave.
  • Should there be a layoff due to economic or operating conditions during an employee’s leave, job protections of the PLA will not apply to such employees if it is determined that they would have been so affected if they had not been on leave. However, the employee must retain any preferential consideration for another position, the same as they may have had prior to taking a leave.
  • Nothing in the PLA is meant to affect any bargaining agreement or company policy that provides for greater or additional benefits beyond the PLA.
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New MA Earned Sick Time Law Webinar

Hollister Insurance is offering a free webinar regarding the new MA Earned Sick Time Law, scheduled to take effect in 2015.  The webinar will take place on: Wednesday, March 18th, from 1:30pm to 2:30pm.  The webinar is designed to provide employers with timely information on the new law within a platform that will allow questions and answers, helping participants gain a thorough understanding of the law’s requirements.

Our guest who will be presenting the webinar is Rick Szczebak, Esq.  Rick has more than 25 years of experience as an ERISA employee benefits lawyer and consultant. He is Of Counsel to Parker Brown Macaulay & Sheerin, P.C., in Foxborough, Massachusetts, where he concentrates his practice exclusively in employee benefit matters including compliance with state and federal health care reform. During the past 7 years Rick has also been a special legal advisor to the MA Health Connector Authority in connection with Mass Health Care Reform.  Rick is a graduate of the University of Massachusetts and Marquette University Law School.

For more information or to RSVP to the seminar, please contact [email protected]