2014 Information For Voters

QUESTION 4: Law Proposed by Initiative Petition

Earned Sick Time for Employees

Do you approve of a law summarized below, on which no vote was taken by the Senate or the House of Representatives on or before May 6, 2014?

SUMMARY

This proposed law would entitle employees in Massachusetts to earn and use sick time according to certain conditions.

Employees who work for employers having eleven or more employees could earn and use up to 40 hours of paid sick time per calendar year, while employees working for smaller employers could earn and use up to 40 hours of unpaid sick time per calendar year.

An employee could use earned sick time if required to miss work in order (1) to care for a physical or mental illness, injury or medical condition affecting the employee or the employee’s child, spouse, parent, or parent of a spouse; (2) to attend routine medical appointments of the employee or the employee’s child, spouse, parent, or parent of a spouse; or (3) to address the effects of domestic violence on the employee or the employee’s dependent child.  Employees would earn one hour of sick time for every 30 hours worked, and would begin accruing those hours on the date of hire or on July 1, 2015, whichever is later. Employees could begin to use earned sick time on the 90th day after hire.

The proposed law would cover both private and public employers, except that employees of a particular city or town would be covered only if, as required by the state constitution, the proposed law were made applicable by local or state legislative vote or by appropriation of sufficient funds to pay for the benefit. Earned paid sick time would be compensated at the same hourly rate paid to the employee when the sick time is used.

Employees could carry over up to 40 hours of unused sick time to the next calendar year, but could not use more than 40 hours in a calendar year. Employers would not have to pay employees for unused sick time at the end of their employment. If an employee missed work for a reason eligible for earned sick time, but agreed 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.

Employers could require certification of the need for sick time if an employee used sick time for more than 24 consecutively scheduled work hours. Employers could not delay the taking of or payment for earned sick time because they have not received the certification.  Employees would have to make a good faith effort to notify the employer in advance if the need for earned sick time is foreseeable.

Employers would be prohibited from interfering with or retaliating based on an employee’s exercise of earned sick time rights, and from retaliating based on an employee’s support of another employee’s exercise of such rights.

The proposed law would not override employers’ obligations under any contract or benefit plan with more generous provisions than those in the proposed law. Employers that have their own policies providing as much paid time off, usable for the same purposes and under the same conditions, as the proposed law would not be required to provide additional paid sick time.

The Attorney General would 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. The state Executive Office of Health and Human Services, in consultation with the Attorney General, would develop a multilingual outreach program to inform the public of the availability of earned sick time.

The proposed law would take effect on July 1, 2015, and states that if any of its parts were declared invalid, the other parts would stay in effect.

WHAT YOUR VOTE WILL DO

A YES VOTE would entitle employees in Massachusetts to earn and use sick time according to certain conditions.

A NO VOTE would make no change in the laws regarding earned sick time.

See full text of Question 4

ARGUMENTS

As provided by law, the 150-word arguments are written by proponents and opponents of each question, and reflect their opinions. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts does not endorse these arguments, and does not certify the truth or accuracy of any statement made in these arguments. The names of the individuals and organizations who wrote each argument, and any written comments by others about each argument, are on file in the Office of the Secretary of the Commonwealth.

IN FAVOR: A YES vote will allow workers in Massachusetts to earn up to 40 hours of sick time a year to take care of their own health or a family member’s health.

Workers will earn one hour of sick time for every 30 hours worked, and can use their sick time only after working for 90 days.

Thousands of hardworking people in Massachusetts are forced to choose between going to work sick or losing a day’s pay – or worse, their jobs. Some are even forced to send a sick child to school to save their income or job.

A YES vote on Question 4 will save jobs and income, allowing workers to spend more in the local economy, benefiting us all.

Businesses providing sick time find that it reduces employee turnover, increases productivity, and helps their bottom line.

Authored by:
Debra Ann Fastino, Co-chair
Raise Up Massachusetts
150 Mt. Vernon Street, 2nd Floor
Dorchester, MA 02125
617-284-1260
http://raiseupma.org

AGAINST: Protect Massachusetts Small Businesses. Vote NO on Question 4.

Question 4 would make Massachusetts the first state to require small and taxpayer funded employers to provide up to a week of mandatory paid sick time and family leave to all employees, including part-timers. The red tape and mandate would be costly to small businesses and taxpayers.  

When an employee at a typical office setting calls in sick, other employees usually step in to cover the workload. However, for customer service focused employers or employers with mandatory staffing levels, this may not be an option. These employers would be required to pay twice, once to the employee on leave and a second time to the employee working the shift. It would essentially double their payroll.

One size does not fit all, and small businesses and their employees depend on flexibility to increase salaries and other benefits, not costly state mandates.

Authored by:
Retailers Association of Massachusetts
18 Tremont Street, Suite 810
Boston, MA 02108
617-523-1900