First, although the editorial correctly points out the regs impose a “reasonable notice” requirement upon employees, it neglects to mention that there is no such requirement in an emergency situations, unless it is “reasonable” and “feasible” “under the circumstances” and that any notice requirement must also be in accordance with the employer’s policies and procedures. Further, the editorial cites what it calls the “bakery rule” requiring employee’s to take a full-shift’s worth of paid sick time in certain situations, but it omits to say that in such situations, employers must still provide job protected unpaid sick leave if the employee has already used up his paid sick leave.
Additionally, the editorial implies that it’s just “seasonal workers” who have to provide “a doctor’s note” (i.e. written documentation from a health care provider) in order to legitimately take sick leave during the last two weeks of their employment when in fact the language of the regs seems to apply that requirement to full and part-time employees as well. The editorial goes on to refer to “per diem workers [who] will face a ’24-hour rule’” under the regs. In fact, there is no explicit reference to such a rule in the regs. Perhaps the editorial is referring to a provision that is much more vague – “An employee may not use earned sick time if the employee is not scheduled to be at work during the period of use.”
Finally, the editorial mentions the “safe harbor” period, but does not warn employers who hope to rely on it that they will still have to change their policies by July 1 if, as is often the case, their existing PTOs do not provide benefits to part-time employees.
So, what’s the bottom line? If you’re subject to the new Massachusetts Sick Time law – and most likely you are no matter what your size if you have any employee presence whatsoever in Massachusetts – don’t simply rely on what you’ve heard or read. Instead, if you want to be more certain about compliance, consult with an attorney, accountant or HR professional who as been carefully following and studying this far reaching new employee right that takes effect one week from now, on July 1, 2015.