Commonwealth of MA Earned Paid Sick Leave FAQ

Chapter 149 of the General Laws,  §148C and 940 CMR 33.02  require that the employer shall provide a minimum of one hour of earned sick time for every thirty hours worked by an employee, up to a maximum of 40 hours of sick time in a calendar year.

Effective July 1, 2015 HR/CMS will be updated with a new Earned Sick Leave Plan (ESC505) to allow non-benefited employees to accrue sick leave on an hour per hour basis, consistent with the new law.

Eligibility

1.     Define the types of employees that would be eligible for this new earned paid sick leave plan.

Answer:  All employees that are not enrolled in an earned sick leave plan for the job. 

  • For example: Contractors, seasonal, post retirees, employees working less than ½ time of a full time employee, per-diems

2.     Are there employees that are not eligible for this new law?

Answer:  Yes.  There are employees that are not covered by this law.

  • Board Members (Position Type “BM”)
  • Elected Officials (Position Type “EL”)
  • Salaried Employees (Pay Type “S”)
  • Client Wage workers (paid from Object Code C33)
  • Work-study students (paid with federal or state funds)
  • National Guard (paid from Object Code C31)

3.     If a full-time employee also works a part-time contract job, is the employee eligible to receive earned sick leave for the part-time job?

Answer:  Yes

4.     If an employee works multiple jobs (i.e. 3 part-time non-benefited positions), how will the employee earn sick time?

Answer:  The employee would need to be enrolled in the earned sick leave plan for every job separately.  The employee would accrue sick leave for each job based on the hours worked at each respective job.

5.     Are employees eligible for FMLA leave?  Can they use their earned sick time?

Answer:  If an employee is otherwise eligible for FMLA leave, s/he may use earned sick leave concurrently with the FMLA leave.

6.     If an non-benefited employee has a break in service with unused earned sick time, is the employee eligible to carry over those hours to the new position?

Answer:  The law allows employees who separate from employment but are subsequently reinstated to be credited with the unused sick leave balance at the time of separation when the break in service is one year (365 days) or less.  Following a break of up to 4 months, the employee may use any unused sick time accrued before the break in service.  Following a break of service between 4 and 12 months, the employee may use earned sick time accrued before the break in service if the employee’s unused sick time equals or exceeds 10 hours.  If the employee has less than 10 hours, that person would be credited with his/her unused sick leave balance, but would not be eligible to use any sick leave until the balance reaches 10 hours. 

  • Example 1:  An unbenefited employee resigns on November 15, 2015 with 16 hours of sick leave.  If the employee is rehired to the Commonwealth within one year of that date, he/she is eligible to carry those hours to the new position.
  • Example 2:  An unbenefited employee resigns on December 31, 2015 with 24 hours of sick leave and is rehired back in February, 2017 he/she is not eligible to carry those hours to the new position.  (Note: The department would be responsible for manually removing the 24 hours in HR/CMS).

7.     Higher Ed Only: Students who earn wages through a work/study program are exempt from the new earned paid sick time law.  What about students who work on campus outside of a work/study program and/or are exempt from FICA (Social Security and Medicare) deductions?  How does the new law affect these employees? 

Answer:  When these students are in FICA-exempt status (typically during the academic year, when enrolled for the requisite number of credits), they may not earn or use accrued sick time.  When FICA deductions are being made (typically during winter or summer breaks in the academic year, when not enrolled in classes), they are eligible to earn and use accrued sick time on the same basis as all other employees covered by the new law.  The change from FICA deductions being made to FICA-exempt status would constitute a break in service for purposes of the new law.


Enrollment
8.     When should employees who are already active prior to 7/1/15 be enrolled in the new earned sick leave plan?

Answer:  On 7/2/15 MassIT will run a one-time only Mass Update to enroll eligible employees in the new ESC505 earned sick leave plan to be effective in the 6/28/15 – 7/11/15 pay period.  Departments will be responsible for enrolling new employees hired on or after July 1, 2015.

9.     When should a department enroll a new employee in the earned sick leave plan?

Answer:  Employees should be enrolled in the new earned sick leave plan as part of the hire process. 

  • Plan Type: 55 – Earned Sick
  • Benefit Plan: ESC505 – Earned Sick 1/30 hrs (40 max)

 

Accrual / Usage

10.  How is the sick time earned? 

Answer:  The ESC505 is an hour per hour sick plan and eligible employees will earn sick leave in the amount of .033334 for every hour worked, up to a maximum of 40 hours of sick leave per calendar year.

11.  When is the sick leave credited to employees?

Answer:  The earned sick leave is credited every pay period during payroll processing.

12.  How will the employee verify earned sick time accrued and available? 

Answer:  Earned sick time balances will be available on the HR/CMS SSTA timesheet.

13.  Are compensated absences (i.e. Jury duty, military leave, or sick leave) counted towards “hours worked’ for sick accrual purposes?

Answer:  No.  The employee will only accrue earned sick leave based on the actual hours worked. 

14.  Is there a waiting period before an employee is eligible to use their earned sick leave?

Answer:  The Earned Sick Time Law does include a 90-day waiting period for employees to begin using accrued sick leave.  However, the 90-day waiting period only applies to newly hired non-benefited employees.  Starting July 1st each department shall have the discretion to either allow the employee to use sick leave as it is earned or to require the employee to wait until he/she has been employed for 90 calendar days.  Departments are responsible for enforcing it manually.  Note: Executive Departments are waiving this requirement.

15.  How many hours are employees able to use in calendar year?

Answer:  Employees are eligible to use 40 hours per year, in no less than 15 minute increments.  Refer to the sick leave policy for more information on usage of sick leave.  

16.  Once an unbenefited employee is eligible to use their earned sick leave, how should this time be reported?

Answer:  HR/CMS has new Time Reporting Codes (TRCs) and Earnings Codes for the Earned Sick Leave plan.

TRC         Description                                    Earn Cd            Description

ESIC       Earned Sick Lv Paid                           ESC                 Earned Sick Lv Paid

ESIF        Earned Sick in Family – Pd                 ESC                 Earned Sick Lv Paid

ESIC+      Earned Sick Lv Adj Increase                ES+                  Earned Sick Lv Adj Increase

ESIC-       Earned Sick Lv Adj Decrease              ES-                   Earned Sick Lv Adj Decrease


17. 
Can the employer require the employee to submit medical documentation to substantiate the use of sick leave?

Answer:  The law does allow employers to request medical documentation under limited circumstances, typically when an employee uses sick leave on 3 consecutive scheduled days of work.  An employer that performs essential public health and safety functions may also require medical documentation if an employee uses sick leave during a severe weather event or other emergency.  Refer to the Earned Sick Leave Policy for more information on when medical documentation may be requested.

18.  If an employee has a full time benefited job and also has a part time contract job for the commonwealth, can the employee use sick leave earned in one job for the other part time job?

Answer:  No.  The employee will accrue sick leave for each job worked separately.  The employee may only use sick leave accrued from each job to cover the hours not worked in the respective jobs.

19.  Are employees allowed to carry over sick leave into the next calendar year?

Answer:  Yes.  Employees may carry over a total of up to 40 hours into the next calendar year.

20.  If employees are allowed to carry over sick leave into the next calendar year, are they also eligible to continue to earn sick leave in the next year?

Answer:  Yes.  An employee can carry over 40 hours of unused sick leave into the next calendar year and accrue up to 40 hours in the new calendar year.  However an employee cannot have a balance of more than 40 hours at any time during the year.  The calendar year begins with the first full pay period in January through the last pay period that includes December 31st.

  • Example:  In January, 2017 the employee carries over 40 hours of unused sick leave. The employee works every week in January but does not accrue any earned sick leave since he/she has a sick balance of 40 hours.  The first week of February, the employee uses 40 hours of sick leave.  The employee is now eligible to earn up to 40 hours for the remainder of the year, but will not be eligible to use any additional sick leave until the following year. 

21.  What is the process for an employee who reports more than 40 hours of sick leave in a calendar year?

Answer:  HR/CMS will create an automatic TL Exception when an employee reports more than 40 hours of sick leave in a calendar year.  HR will be notified of the high exception and will need to remove the reported hours of sick leave manually for the unbenefited employee.  HR/CMS does not automatically remove high exceptions.  The calendar year begins with the first full pay period in January through the last pay period that includes December 31st.

22.  Once an employee begins to use his/her sick leave, how does HR/CMS prevent an employee from earning more than 40 hours of sick leave in a calendar year?

Answer:  The Earned Sick Plan ESC505 has a maximum balance of 40 hours.  A new Earned Sick Leave Adjustment program was created to prevent employees from earning more than 40 hours of sick leave per calendar year.  The calendar year begins with the first full pay period in January through the last pay period that includes December 31st.  The program will run every pay period.  A report, HMPAY113 – Earned Sick Adjustment, will be available in Document Direct/Luminist after payroll runs. The report identifies employees whose sick leave accrual has been adjusted



Separation from Service

23.  Is there a cash-out of unused sick leave if an employee separates from service? 

Answer:  No.  There is no cash-out when employees enrolled in this leave plan separate from service.

24. When the employee separates from service should the leave plan be terminated.

Answer:  Yes.  The leave plan should be terminated.

Last Modified: 6/24/20