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Local Attorney: Earned Sick Leave Law Causes Employer Headaches

SPRINGFIELD — Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey filed final regulations on June 19 regarding the new Earned Sick Leave Law that will take effect tomorrow, leaving employers with only eight business days to make payroll and policy changes to stay in compliance of the law.

The final regulations addressed questions about the law’s ambiguities that have been raised throughout the Commonwealth, including several by local employment-law attorney Kimberly Klimczuk, partner at Skoler, Abbott & Presser, P.C. Klimczuk testified before the attorney general during the public hearing in Springfield in May, advocating for employers.

“This public-notice and comment period offered by the attorney general was our opportunity to gain clarity on behalf of employers,” said Klimczuk. “Over the last six months, I have presented to almost a dozen groups of human-resource professionals and clients that had questions not clearly answered within the law or previously issued regulations.”

Klimczuk brought the questions to the attention of the attorney general so that ambiguities could be addressed within the final regulations. The final regulations clarified several issues, such as whether sick leave can be used concurrently with leave taken pursuant to the Family and Medical Leave Act or other leave laws, whether differential pay would be included in sick pay, and whether policies that condition holiday pay on attendance the day before and the day after the holiday would be acceptable under the non-retaliation provisions of the law.

“I was impressed with how responsive the attorney general and her staff were to employer concerns,” she said. “Many of the issues I raised at the public hearing were explicitly addressed in the final regulations, such as the provision about holiday policies, which was a huge relief to many of my clients. While not everything was resolved in exactly the way we had hoped, in many areas, we at least have the information we need to provide a definitive answer to our clients’ questions.”

Still, given the short period of time between the issuance of the final regulations and the effective date of the law, many employers are scrambling to make the policy changes necessary to come into compliance by the July 1 effective date. To assist employers in this endeavor, Skoler, Abbott & Presser, P.C. attorneys Susan Fentin and David McBride are presenting a seminar this morning on the new Earned Sick Leave Law and the final regulations at the Sheraton Springfield. The firm is also planning a seminar in Worcester, date and time to be announced.

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