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State Issues Final Sick-Time Regulations

Posted by Brad MacDougall on Jun 22, 2015 7:21:06 AM

Attorney General Maura Healey on Friday issued final regulations for the state’s earned sick-time law, rules that clarify major employer concerns from the ability to use existing paid-time off benefits to preventing abuse.

health_careThe regulations outline conditions that will allow some companies to comply with the law through their existing time-off plans, as long as those plans provide employees with as much or more sick time as the law, and observe prohibitions on retaliation and interference.

The rules also assert that earned sick-time runs concurrently with certain other federal and state leave laws and that an employee who leaves for longer than four months and hasn’t accrued at least 10 hours of sick time will not be able to carry over any hours when he or she returns.

Employers now have nine days to digest the regulations before the earned sick time law takes effect on July 1.

Associated Industries of Massachusetts, which filed 19 pages of comments to the regulations based on thousands of questions posed by member employers, commended the attorney general for responding to business concerns under a tight timeline.

“The attorney general really was listening to the legitimate concerns of businesspeople who want to comply with this new law. We give her high marks for this,” said Richard C. Lord, President and Chief Executive Officer.

“AIM has worked with employers throughout the regulation and process and is now prepared to help those employers understand the regulations and comply with them.”

AIM will conduct a series of seminars throughout the commonwealth during July that will review specifics of the regulations and look at a model policy and sample documents.

Among the issues of interest to employers in the final regulations:

  • An employer may require documentation for absence that exceeds three consecutive days; that occurs within two weeks of leaving a position; after four unforeseeable absences in a three- month period; or after three unforeseeable absences in a three-month period for employees 17 or under.
  • Employees using earned sick time are compensated at their regular rate of pay, plus any shift differential. Overtime and contributions to health insurance or other benefits are excluded.
  • Employees with multiple rates of pay may be compensated for earned sick time either at the rate that would have applied on the date of absence or at a blended rate calculated on the prior pay period, month, quarter or other period of time.
  • Piecework employees accrue sick time through a reasonable projection of hours worked based on established practices or billing.
  • Earned sick time may not be used as an excuse for being late without an authorized purpose.
  • An employee may not accept a shift assignment with the intention of calling out sick for all or part of the shift.
  • The employer may discipline employees for clear pattern of using earned sick time before or after weekends or holidays.
  • The minimum increment of time for using earned sick time is one hour, though employers may use fractions of an hour for time more than an hour if their payroll system can track such fractions.
  • Employers that provide 40 hours of paid time off in a lump sum at the start of the year do not have to track accruals or allow the carryover of earned sick time from year to year, provided the use of the time is consistent with earned sick time.
  • Employers may opt to delay accruals of earned sick time for employees with a bank of 40 hours until the bank is reduced below 40 hours.
  • Employers that choose to offer time off through a paid time-off or vacation policy that complies with the earned sick time law do not have to track and keep a separate record of earned sick time use.
  • Employers using existing paid time-off policies must ensure that all used time enjoys the same job protection. The employer may have different policies for different groups of employees as long as all employees accrue and use same amount of time under same conditions.

Employers must also determine during the next several days whether they wish to seek the “safe harbor” that will provide them a six-month transition period for complying with the earned sick time law. Companies seeking the safe harbor are required to extend the leave or paid time off to all employees, both full and part-time.

Register for an AIM Earned Sick-Time Seminar

 

 

 

 

 

Topics: Paid Sick Days, Mandated Paid Sick Days, Attorney General Maura Healey

AG Updates Safe-Harbor Rules for Sick-Time Law

Posted by Brad MacDougall on Jun 10, 2015 11:17:37 AM

Attorney General Maura Healey today issued updated rules for companies seeking to qualify for the “safe harbor” provision of the new state Earned Sick-Time law by extending paid time off to part-time employees.

SneezeHealey announced on May 17 a six-month transition period for companies with existing paid time-off plans to comply with the new sick-time law, which is scheduled to take effect on July 1. Companies seeking the safe harbor were required to extend the leave or paid time off to all employees, both full-time and part-time, but employers questioned whether part-timers would qualify for the full 30 hours of leave.

The update issued by the attorney general today allows employers to extend earned sick time proportionally to part-time employees and to employees hired after July 1.

Healey also issued the Earned Sick Time notice that employers will be required to post in the workplace. The notice contains several important elements, including the fact that the smallest increment of sick time that employees may take is one hour and that sick time “cannot be used as an excuse to be late for work without advance notice of a proper use.”

“The attorney general’s office has, once again, showed a willingness to listen to the comments of employers who wish to comply in good faith with the Earned Sick-Time law. These updates provide clarity as employers work to align their existing paid time-off plans with the new regulations,” said Richard C. Lord, President and Chief Executive Officer of AIM.

The safe harbor transition allows any employer with a paid time-off policy in existence as of May 1 that provides to employees the right to use at least 30 hours of paid time off during the calendar year 2015 to be in compliance with the law from July 1 through January 1, 2016. The time off must be job protected.

The provision is intended to address concerns among employers that they will not be able to adjust their payroll systems during the short period between the issuance of final regulations later this month and the July 1 effective date of the law approved by Massachusetts voters.

The updated regulations address the issue of part-time and new employees as follows:

“On and after July 1, 2015, all employees not previously covered by the policy, including part-time employees, new employees, and per diem employees must either accrue paid time off at the same rate of accrual as covered full-time employees; or if the policy provides lump sum allocations, receive a prorated lump sum allocation based on the provision of lump sum paid time off/sick leave to covered full-time employees.

“Such lump sum allocations may:

  • where lump sums of paid time off are provided annually, be halved for employees who receive coverage as of July 1, 2015, and proportionately reduced for employees hired after July 1, 2015; and/or 
  • be proportionate for part-time employees.

The update and poster are available for download on the attorney general’s Earned Sick Time Web site: www.mass.gov/ago/earnedsicktime.

AIM urges employers to read the full text of the safe harbor update and to make comments to elected officials using the AIMVoice button, below. Today is the final day of the Notice and Comment period on the Earned Sick-Time Regulations.

 Take Action  Contact Elected Officials

Topics: Paid Sick Days, Mandated Paid Sick Days, Attorney General Maura Healey

AIM Submits Comments on Sick-Time Regulations

Posted by Brad MacDougall on Jun 8, 2015 9:30:00 AM

Associated Industries of Massachusetts filed 19 pages of comments to the proposed Earned Sick Time regulations Saturday as Attorney General Maura Healey and the business community continued to discuss a clarification of the “safe harbor” provision for companies that wish to extend existing paid time-off programs to part-time workers.

AG.Maura.HealeyHealey announced on May 17 a six-month transition period for companies with existing paid time-off plans to comply with the new sick-time law, which is scheduled to take effect on July 1. The safe harbor transition allowed any employer with a paid time-off policy in existence as of May 1 that provides to employees the right to use at least 30 hours of paid time off during the calendar year 2015 to be in compliance with the law from July 1 through January 1, 2016.

Companies seeking the safe harbor were required to extend the leave or paid time off to all employees, both full-time and part-time, but employers have questioned whether part-timers would qualify for the full 30 hours of leave.

AIM has proposed that companies qualify for the six-month transition by extending leave proportionally to part-time employees. So if full-timers qualify for 30 hours of leave, half-time employees would earn 15 hours. Discussions are ongoing, but no final agreement had been reached as of the week-end.

AIM’s formal comments seek to clarify the regulations employers will have to follow under the new law and head off an expected onslaught of lawsuits growing out of inconsistencies in the rules.

“While the safe harbor provision does provide relief, it does not prevent creative attorneys from filing lawsuits.  We are concerned that after July 1 many businesses will be subjected to lawsuits from aggressive plaintiffs’ attorneys seeking to leverage the commonwealth’s treble damages statute that provides for attorney’s fees under the law,” the comments state.

“AIM believes that like the state’s healthcare and data security laws, the earned sick time law will take time, effort and money to implement properly and responsibly.”

AIM maintains in its comments that many of the proposed earned sick-time regulations are not supported by the statute. 

Specific recommendations include:

  • Change the one-year break-in-service provision to four months to align with federal health care reform.
  • Require employees to explicitly tell employers whether the time off they seek is earned sick time.
  • Allow employers to discipline employees who fail to comply with reasonable documentation requirements.
  • Allow employers to terminate workers who have engaged in fraud and abuse of the earned sick-time law.
  • Count only hours worked in Massachusetts toward the accrual of earned sick time.

AIM’s comments were distilled from thousands of responses and questions posed by employers across Massachusetts. More than 700 companies participated in a recent AIM Webinar explaining the proposed regulations.

Attorney General Healey is expected to issue final regulations later this month.

Take Action  Contact Elected Officials

 

VoterVoice Call to Action: https://www.votervoice.net/AIM/campaigns/40134/respond

Topics: Paid Sick Days, Mandated Paid Sick Days, Attorney General Maura Healey

Attorney General Offers Transition to Companies with Paid Leave Policies

Posted by John Regan on May 17, 2015 9:04:00 PM

Employers who offer sick leave or paid time off to workers now have a six-month transition period to comply with the state’s paid sick-time law under a new policy to be announced today by Attorney General Maura Healey.

AG.Maura.HealeyThe provision provides much-needed breathing room for employers, many of whom maintain they will be unable to adjust their payroll systems and implement the complex new law by its scheduled July 1 effective date.

Healey, who is currently developing regulations for the law approved by voters on November 4, announced that any employer with a paid time off policy in existence as of May 1 that provides to employees the right to use at least 30 hours of paid time off during the calendar year 2015 will be in compliance with the law from July 1 through January 1, 2016.

Employers seeking the “Safe Harbor” protection must extend the leave or paid time off to all employees, both full-time and part-time. Companies that do not currently offer paid time off to part-time workers may add those workers to their leave plans to qualify for the transition period.

Any paid time off used by an employee from July 1 to December 31 must be job-protected leave subject to the law’s non-retaliation and non-interference provisions. In all other respects during this transition period, the employer may continue to administer paid time off under current policies.

Companies meeting these qualifications must come into compliance by January 1. Companies that did not maintain a paid time off policy as of May 1 must comply with the new law by July 1, as scheduled.

“The provision represents a reasonable compromise that will allow employers already offering sick leave some time to implement the new law,” said Richard C. Lord, President and Chief Executive Officer of Associated Industries of Massachusetts.

“Attorney General Healey deserves tremendous credit for responding to the concerns of employers seeking to understand a complex new law and to comply with its provisions in a responsible manner. Employers look forward to continued discussions with the attorney general as she develops final regulations for earned sick time.”

Announcement of the compromise transition period follows weeks of intensive discussions among the business community, the Legislature and the attorney general over a law for which rules and regulations will be completed only days before July 1. AIM member-employers sent more than 800 messages to state officials last week reporting that the statute raises questions about how to integrate its provisions with existing paid-time off programs.

Among the issues:

  • Employers must determine the 12-month period during which employees will accrue up to 40 hours paid sick time at a rate equal to or greater than one hour for every 30 hours worked.
  • Employers must also decide whether to pay employees for any earned sick time that exceeds 16 hours at the end of the 12-month period. Employees may otherwise elect to use sick time exceeding 40 hours during the final weeks of the year instead of losing the time.
  • Perhaps the most complex challenge facing employers is whether to replace or merge existing vacation or time-off benefits with earned sick days. Such combinations are fraught with danger since any time off provided under the new law requires no more than seven days of advance notice from employees and might not be subject to verification.
  • Virtually all employees – full-time, part-time, temporary, seasonal and interns – are covered by the new law. And for employees who spend most of their working hours in Massachusetts but work in other states as well, all of their hours in all states will be used to accrue sick leave in the Bay State.

"We realize that the new policy announced by the attorney general is not perfect and that many companies, particularly those with large numbers of part-time employees, will face challenges. AIM will work with all employers to navigate the best course through this complex issue," Lord said.

Healey will today kick off a series of six public hearings across the state to gather comment on draft regulations published on April 24. Today’s hearing will take place from 10:30 am – 1:30 pm at 100 Cambridge Street in Boston.

The attorney general’s office will accept comments through June 10 before issuing the final regulations. 

AIM encourages employers who plan to attend any of the hearings to contact Brad MacDougall, bmacdougall@aimnet.org, for details.

Topics: Employment Law, Paid Sick Days, Mandated Paid Sick Days, Maura Healey

Legislators Resist Date Change for Sick-Leave Law as Employers Struggle with Regulations

Posted by Christopher Geehern on Apr 30, 2015 3:28:00 PM

A day after Beacon Hill lawmakers again declined to delay the start of the new earned sick-time law, employers barraged AIM experts with more than 550 questions today about proposed regulations for the statute with which they must comply eight weeks from now.

SneezeMore than 600 Bay State employers used an AIM Webinar to express confusion over details ranging from which employees will be eligible for paid sick time to the wisdom of merging existing paid time-off programs into the new law.

“The overwhelming number of people who took part in the Webinar and asked questions underscores the problem that employers are going to have implementing a complex and far-reaching law for which only draft rules of the road now exist,” said Russ Sullivan, Vice President in the AIM Employers Resource Group and one of the Webinar leaders.

“This was the largest turnout for an information Webinar in my time at AIM and I know we had many other employers who wanted to attend but were tied up.”

The House of Representatives on Wednesday rejected a budget amendment from Minority Leader Brad Jones (R-Reading) that would have delayed the July 1 implementation date for paid sick time by 90 days.

“So the regulations wouldn't be finalized until just days before this takes effect, so businesses will have only a matter of days to make changes to payroll and how they run their business,” Jones said during floor debate.

Other legislators disagreed.

“Payroll is fairly straightforward. I'm married to an accountant. I encourage members to stay the course and honor the will of the voters and allow this law to follow the timeframe,” said Rep. Denise Provost, D-Somerville.

The amendment failed by a vote of 113 to 45.

It marked the second time in as many weeks that the Legislature rebuffed efforts by AIM to change the effective date of the law approved by voters November 4. The state Senate turned back a similar amendment on April 16.

Sullivan and fellow AIM Vice President Tom Jones, Esq., told employers during today’s Webinar that the paid sick-days law will impact every Massachusetts company, as well as out-of-state companies with employees in Massachusetts. They also warned that companies with existing paid time-off plans may not comply with the new law.

Among the issues raised by employers:

  • Employers must determine the 12-month period during which employees will accrue paid sick time at the rate of one hour for every 30 hours worked. Sullivan and Jones recommended using the same 12-month calendar or fiscal year for all employees.
  • Employers must also decide whether to pay employees for any earned sick time that exceeds 16 hours at the end of the 12-month period. Employees may otherwise elect to use sick days during the final week of the year instead of losing the time.
  • Perhaps the most complex challenge facing employers is whether to replace or merge existing vacation or time-off benefits with earned sick days. Sullivan said such combinations are fraught with danger since any time off provided under the new law requires no more than seven days of advance notice from employees and might not be subject to verification.
  • Virtually all employees – full-time, part-time, temporary, seasonal and interns – are covered by the new law. And for employees who spend most of their working hours in Massachusetts but work in other states as well, all of their hours in all states will be used to accrue sick leave in the Bay State.

“It doesn’t matter what you classify an employee as. Applicability is going to be determined by the actual number of hours worked over time,” Jones said.

The Attorney General’s office has scheduled six public hearings on the draft regulations and will accept comments through June 10. Employers who wish to submit comments or to testify at a hearing should contact Brad MacDougall, Vice President of Government Affairs, at bmacdougall@aimnet.org.

Contact the Attorney General and Your Legislator  Postpone the Paid Sick-Time Law

Topics: Massachusetts Legislature, Employment Law, Paid Sick Days, Mandated Paid Sick Days

Employer FAQ | The New Paid Sick Time Law

Posted by Russ Sullivan on Nov 5, 2014 9:26:00 AM

Massachusetts employers wake up this morning facing one of the most comprehensive mandated paid sick time laws in the nation.

Bay State voters last night approved a ballot question mandating that employers with 11 or more workers provide 40 hours of paid sick time. Companies with fewer than 11 employees will be required to provide 40 hours of unpaid sick time.

VoteHereSignAssociated Industries of Massachusetts opposed the ballot question as an undue intrusion by government into the benefit decisions of private employers. AIM nevertheless acknowledges the will of the electorate on ballot question 4 and is now moving to help employers implement what will be a complex and administratively difficult law.

Last night’s vote must be certified by the Secretary of the Commonwealth and the Legislature before taking effect on July 1, 2015.

Here are some questions and answers for employers on the new Massachusetts paid sick time law:

1. How much paid sick time is a company required to offer?

Businesses with 11 or more employees will be required to offer up to 40 hours of paid sick time per calendar year. Businesses with fewer than 11 employees will be required to offer up to 40 hours of unpaid time to workers each calendar year.

2. How do I count employees for the purposes of the law?

Any person who performs services for an employer for “wage, remuneration or other compensation,” including all full-time, part-time or temporary employees.


3. How and when is mandatory sick time earned?

An eligible employee will earn a minimum of one hour of sick time for every 30 hours worked.  Employees will begin to accrue this earned sick time on their date of hire, or on July 1, 2015, whichever date is later.  Exempt employees will earn paid sick time based upon the assumption of a 40-hour work week, unless their normal work week is less than 40 hours, and in that case their paid time would accrue based upon their normal work week. Employees may begin to use earned sick time on the 90th day after hire.

4. For what reasons may an employee use earned sick pay?

An eligible employee may utilize earned time to care for a physical or mental illness, injury or medical condition, or to attend routine medical appointments for him/herself or one of the following relations: child, spouse, parent, or parent of a spouse. Earned sick time may be taken to address the physical, psychological or legal effects of domestic violence.

5. Can an employer require an employee to work additional hours to make up for missed time?

If an employee misses work for a reason eligible for earned sick time, but agrees with the employer to work the same number of hours or shifts in the same or next pay period, the employee would not have to use earned sick time for the missed time, and the employer would not have to pay for that missed time.  Employers would be prohibited from requiring such an employee to work additional hours to make up for missed time, or to find a replacement employee.

6. Are employees permitted to take earned sick time in less than full work day increments?

An employee will be able to use earned sick time in increments as small as one hour, or the smallest increment or the smallest unit that employer’s payroll system allows for taking time off.

7. Will earned sick time carry over from one calendar year to the next?

Employees will be able to carry over up to 40 hours of earned unused sick time to the next calendar year, but may not use more than 40 hours in a calendar year. 

8. Is an employer required to pay earned but unused sick time at the time of an employee’s termination? 

An employer will not be required to pay employees for earned unused sick time at the end of their employment.

9. Is documentation required to take sick time?

Employers may require certification of the need for sick time when more than 24 consecutive hours of earned sick time are requested.  But employers may not delay the taking of, or payment for, earned sick time because they haven’t received the certification.  The employee does not need to provide documentation for absences of fewer than than 24 consecutive hours. 

10. Does an employee have to provide advance notice of the need to take time off? 

An employee must make a good-faith effort to notify the employer in advance if the need for the earned sick time is foreseeable.

11. What if I have a Paid Time-Off program?

Employers with a Paid Time-Off (PTO) program that combines vacation, holidays, sick time and personal time should determine whether it makes sense to carve out sick time so that the mandatory paid sick time is not applied on top of their employees’ PTO bank.

12. Our business has a “good attendance” policy for our employees.  Will our policy be impacted by this legislation?

“Good Attendance” policies must be reviewed since the ballot question makes it unlawful for any employer to prevent an employee from utilizing paid sick days or to penalize an employee for using leave. “Good attendance” policies provide incentives to employees who do not use their earned paid time off.

13. Who enforces the law?

The attorney general will enforce the proposed law, using the same enforcement procedures applicable to other state wage laws, and employees could file suits in court to enforce their earned sick time rights. The Attorney General would have to prepare a multilingual notice regarding the right to earned sick time, and employers would be required to post the notice in a conspicuous location and to provide a copy to employees. 

Members with questions regarding the new law should contact AIM’ Hotline / Employment Resource Group at 617-262-1180.

Topics: Employment Law, Human Resources, Paid Sick Days, Mandated Paid Sick Days

Legislative Committee Approves Redrafted Paid Sick-Time Bill

Posted by Brad MacDougall on Mar 13, 2012 3:11:00 PM

A legislative committee has approved a redrafted mandated sick-time bill that would require companies with fewer than six employees to provide unpaid sick time, and all other employers to offer paid sick time.

Paid Sick TimeMembers of the Joint Committee on Labor and Workforce Development issued their positive report on An Act Establishing Earned Paid Sick Time on Thursday. The bill now faces additional review by other legislative committees.

AIM plans to review details of the bill and make a formal recommendation to member employers. The association testified against the original version of the bill, which would have required all Massachusetts employers to provide paid sick days.

The revised proposal would require businesses with fewer than six employees to offer up to 40 hours of unpaid time to workers. Businesses with six to 10 employees would be required to offer up to 40 hours of paid sick time, and businesses with more than 10 employees would be required to offer up to 56 hours of paid sick time.

Employees would be eligible for an hour of sick time for every 30 hours worked. Employers with more than 10 workers would be required to comply with the proposal within six months, and all others would have a year to conform their policies to those required in the bill.

A summary of the bill indicates that employers would be prohibited from disciplining workers for using earned sick leave. Employers would also be barred from requiring workers who use paid sick time to take on additional shifts.

AIM and thousands of employers who already provide paid sick time have opposed sick-time mandates because they would take away the flexibility they need to design innovative benefit programs. Decisions regarding any benefit provided to employees should be left to the discretion of the employer based upon economic circumstances, the size of the company, the nature of the employment relationship with each employee and the competitive environment.

A mandate could also impose crippling productivity challenges for employers as they scramble to replace people on paid leave. An employer with 20 workers would face up to 140 lost work days per year due to state-mandated paid days alone, in addition to the holidays, vacations and personal days currently provided.

AIM members interested in more information about the pending employment-law bills may contact me at 617.262.1180, or bmacdougall@aimnet.org

Topics: Issues, Employment Law, Paid Sick Days, Mandated Paid Sick Days

T Leave Scandal Provides Cautionary Tale on Paid Sick Days

Posted by Karen Choi on Aug 24, 2011 10:50:00 AM

A recent investigation by the MBTA that found massive abuse of the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) by T bus drivers provides a cautionary tale to state lawmakers as they debate mandated paid sick days.

Paid Sick DaysThe MBTA report found that the agency paid $2 million during past fiscal year in overtime costs to cover absent bus drivers taking fraudulent FMLA leave, referred to among employees as the “Friday-Monday Leave Act.”  The report indicated that 1,600 bus drivers took a total average of 18,125 days each year during the five-year period between 2006-2010 using the FMLA benefit after the agency cracked down on suspected abuse of sick days.

Drivers averaged more than 11,000 paid sick days each year in addition to the FMLA leave.  In recent months more than a dozen MBTA employees have been fired for submitting fraudulent notes or falsifying medical documents and forging signatures on stolen medical forms.

The $2 million FMLA tab was up $250,000 from the previous fiscal year.

Sick leave provides a level of income protection to employees in the event of accident or illness.  The majority of employers who offer sick leave provide this benefit to employees on a non-vested basis, meaning the paid leave is available to the employee if needed, but is not paid out at termination or rolled over from one year to the next.

A smaller percentage of companies allow employees to roll over some portion of unused sick leave from one year to the next; or allow employees to cash out a percent of unused sick leave annually.  Some companies may even offer significant flexibility, while not having a formally defined sick leave policy.

While employers struggle to make payroll, address skyrocketing health-care premiums and remain competitive during this jobless summer, labor unions and other advocates continue to push a mandated paid-leave proposal that would remove employer flexibility and choice under the guise that it is “good for business.”  Mandated paid sick leave introduces a host of  issues for employers throughout Massachusetts:

  • At companies that already offer paid sick leave, the benefit will change from being a safety net to an entitlement, one that carries forward from one year to the next.
  • Companies will likely experience an increase in the number of unplanned absences.  Employees using sick leave for non-sick related absences strain companies by impacting production and increasing costs related to overtime needed to backfill unplanned absences.  When an employee takes vacation or personal time, they schedule the absence in advance, allowing the company to staff to cover the absence.  Because sick leave is most often an unplanned absence, companies are left scrambling to cover the absence.
  • Companies looking to control abuse will become the “sick leave police” developing practices to monitor sick leave usage, including requiring doctors notes and monitoring Friday/Monday absences
  • Employers who have migrated to Paid Time Off banks will need to address what portion of their PTO program is identified as sick leave.  PTO programs may need to be modified to comply with the mandate.
  • Small employers would feel the impact most directly because they are more likely than large enterprises to not offer paid sick leave, or to offer limited sick leave or flexibility.
  • Employees may see attendance bonus programs disappear because providing the bonus and allowing unused sick time rollover from one year to the next results in double payment.

Employers have a finite amount of money available for total compensation, including base pay, incentives, insurances, payroll taxes, time off and a host of other benefits.  The budget is the budget.  So if Massachusetts mandates seven paid sick days, employees may be faced with cutbacks in other areas to fund this new mandate.  Whether the impact is in jobs, merit budgets, insurance premiums and co-payments or staff training and development opportunities – rest assured there is a shared cost to both the employer and employee.

Bottom line, this case shows that MBTA customers and Massachusetts taxpayers are left with a hefty bill for a debt-ridden agency. They are also left with a stark example of the way in which this type of policy changes employee perception of sick leave from using it to cover absences related to illness or injury to using it for personal time or pleasure. 

So how would your company react if Massachusetts mandated seven paid sick days?

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Topics: Family and Medical Leave Act, Paid Sick Days, Mandated Paid Sick Days

Paid Sick Days Proposal is Anti-Jobs, Anti-Choice

Posted by Brad MacDougall on Jul 14, 2011 10:43:00 AM

AIM will speak at a Beacon Hill hearing today on behalf of thousands of Massachusetts employers who fear that a proposal to mandate paid sick leave will crush their ability to create jobs.

Paid Sick DaysThe association will tell members of the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Labor and Workforce Development that employers do not oppose paid sick leave as an employee benefit.  They instead oppose the mandatory nature of the legislation and believe that decisions regarding any employee benefit provided to employees are best left to the discretion of the individual employer.

Employers themselves provide the clearest evidence of the potential harm that yet another mandated benefit would cause for businesses both large and small. Here are excerpts from some of the 800 messages AIM members have sent to the Legislature:

“I hope to grow jobs for individuals and families. However, mandatory paid sick leave erases any serious hope for future job growth and threatens our ability to remain competitive in Massachusetts. Throughout this recession my company has struggled to retain jobs and benefits. This bill would make it more expensive to do business and would limit our ability to create benefit policies that accommodate our workforce and their families. In fact, this type of policy effectively takes choice away from our employees and their families.”

“As an employer of more than 60 office and factory workers we have always tried to provide our employees the best, affordable health care insurance as well as provisions for illnesses. We feel that the circumstances and capability of each company differ and that some provisions to benefit employees are better determined by the individual employers. As such, a provision to require up to seven sick days, no matter how written, is likely to put the burden of an additional seven days of employee absence on every employer.”

“Our company has been located in Massachusetts for the past 35 years. We have been successful even though our cost structures as a result of our location have been higher than most of our competitors located in other areas of the country. During this recession, we have been able to maintain our workforce, and have not resorted to job cuts, reduction in employee benefits, or other measures that would negatively impact our employees. We have always offered paid sick leave of five days. However, that has been our choice, not a mandate from the state. We object to having the state legislature determine what benefits we must offer, and at what cost. As we see more proposed costs in the form of state mandates, along with some of the highest energy costs in the nation, and as we see the potential for continued growth in our business being stymied by these costs, we will have to consider whether we will be able to be more competitive in a different geographical location.”

“My husband and I own a manufacturing plant. Over the last year we have gone from 15 employees down to 5 but we have managed to survive. We currently offer our employees health insurance for individuals and families of which we pay 70 percent. We pay 100 percent for life insurance and STD for all our employees. We give them up to two weeks paid vacation every year, 10 paid holidays and paid bereavement time if required. At our current rate of pay the addition of paid sick time will add another $2,100 per employee to our annual expenses. Passing this bill will cause businesses to look elsewhere for a more business friendly location.  Who benefits by forcing more business to close or leave the state?”

“Employers have enough challenges just trying to survive and provide good benefits for employees without having additional challenges like this in the mixture.”

“If the Commonwealth continues with the never-ending increases in the costs of doing business here, it will become the only employer within its borders. I wonder how many people are interested in buying products generated by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.”

“Mandatory paid sick leave legislation is simply anti-choice and anti-jobs. When corporations grow their businesses and require additional employees to conduct those businesses, corporations have a choice as to where to employ any additional employees. The type of legislation that is being proposed will drive a corporation to locate its new employment opportunities outside Massachusetts.”

“Our company employs more than two hundred full-time people.  We pride ourselves on the strong, positive, relationships we enjoy with our employees.  Most of our employees have worked at our company for many years, often for most of their working lives.  Company owners and managers are very much aware of how important a part the overall wellbeing of company employees plays in this equation and they do as much as they possibly can, given the economic constraints of the marketplace, to offer a comprehensive employee compensation package that will provide a solid standard of wellbeing for all employees.”

Topics: Massachusetts Legislature, Employment Law, Paid Sick Days, Mandated Paid Sick Days

Employers to Discuss Key Issues with Massachusetts Policymakers

Posted by Christopher Geehern on Jun 6, 2011 1:37:00 PM

Some of the most troublesome employment-law issues facing Massachusetts companies – including independent contractor classification and proposed mandated sick leave – will be on the table Thursday when AIM members meet with Secretary of Labor Joanne Goldstein and two senior Massachusetts lawmakers at the State House.

Massachusetts State HouseThe second annual AIM State House Roundtable will give employers a unique opportunity to speak directly about business issues with the Patrick Administration’s point person on labor and employment law, along with House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Brian Dempsey, and Senator Michael Rodrigues.

“Employers frequently express their concern to us about issues such as treble damages, rules governing classification of employees and proposals to mandate sick leave and family leave,” said Tom Jones, Vice President in the AIM Employer’s Resource Group.

“Public officials need to hear these concerns as they develop policies to promote business growth and job creation. The State House Roundtable provides the perfect setting to do that.”

Goldstein in April expressed strong support for identical bills offered by Sen. Patricia Jehlen (D-Somerville) and Rep. Kay Khan (D-Newton) that would enable the 1.5 million workers in Massachusetts who currently lack paid sick days to earn an hour of paid sick time for every 30 hours worked and up to seven paid sick days a year. Under the proposals, employees who earn sick time would be able to use it to care for themselves, a child, spouse or other immediate family members.

The secretary called mandatory seven paid sick days “a basic right.”

AIM opposes mandatory sick days. The association believes decisions about time off and other benefits should be left to employers and their workers.

Dempsey authored a proposed state budget for Fiscal Year 2012 that avoided new taxes, gave cities and towns the power to control health insurance costs, placed the Workforce Training Fund into a trust and narrowed the scope of the onerous 2008 treble damages law. The Senate did not immediately follow suit on the treble damages provision, which would have limited mandatory awards to triple damages to cases in which employers willfully violated the Massachusetts wage and hour low.

The State House Roundtable will take place from 1-5 p.m. Participants will then return to the AIM Boston office for a networking reception.

Topics: AIM State House Roundtable, Associated Industries of Massachusetts, Employment Law, Massachusetts employers, Paid Sick Days, Mandated Paid Sick Days

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