Paid sick time requirement takes hold in Massachusetts

By: Rebecca Turco

Email: rturco@abc6.com

FALL RIVER – Massachusetts workers are now benefiting from one of the most generous paid sick time laws in the country.

The new rules, which kicked in Wednesday, will help around 1 million workers who weren't entitled to paid sick time. “No one should have to choose between the job that they have and the family that they love, or themselves,” explained Joe DiMauro, the Fall River regional field director of Raise Up Massachusetts, a campaign for the cause. “If they're sick, they should be able to take that time off and not have to worry about a paycheck.”

Employees can now accrue up to 40 hours of paid sick time per year, earning one hour for every 30 hours put in. Companies with less than 11 employees can offer unpaid sick leave.

This new requirement comes into play following a controversial voter-approved law. Now, all businesses have to deal with these changes – even the ones already offering paid sick leave.

“We are going to have to readdress how we deal with part-time workers and their sick leave,” explained Matthew Schondek, president and CEO of Fall River Municipal Credit Union. “But, the bigger burden is going to be on the documentation and tracking imposed by this law.”

Sick days can be used personally or to take care of a family member, and companies can demand to see a doctor’s note for absences longer than three days. For absences shorter than that, employers’ hands are tied.

“If all employees in the country elect to take a day off, there's not much that a business can do to stop that type of abuse the way that this law is currently shaped,” said Robert Mellion, Esq., president and CEO of the Fall River Area Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Supporters feel this law will only help business in the long-run. “When employees feel like they're cared for, they actually work harder, there's less turnover rate and they're just happier to work,” DiMauro said.

© WLNE-TV 2015