Ship with Anchor

Before Dropping Anchor

in the Safe Harbor

Look out for

the “Ifs” and “Buts”

The Massachusetts’ Attorney General’s Office issued a declaration stating that there would be a Safe Harbor available for companies who already have a sick time policy in place. Since you already have a sick time policy, you’re all set for now, right? Maybe. Before you drop your anchor, take a look at the facts below.

A careful reading of the declaration shows that this Safe Harbor only applies if your current sick time policy:

  • Was in effect by May 1, 2015
  • Provides 30 or more hours of sick time in a year for full time employees
  • Covers all employees including part time, seasonal, etc.
  • Allows employees the same usages and protections as the current law, which must be honored

Please see a copy of the AG’s most recent version of the Safe Harbor letter, attached below.

Monday, May 18, I attended the AGO’s public hearing in Boston on the new Earned Sick Time law. The hearing was led by Mike Firestone, Director of Strategic Initiatives and Assistant District Attorney. During the hearing many issues and questions where presented to the panel by various speakers, of which I was one. The majority of these questions were cleared up at the hearing, and those that were not will be studied further by the AG’s office. After the hearing, I spoke personally with Mike Firestone about the provisions of the Safe Harbor in order to make sure that I had the correct interpretation of the law.

The Safe Harbor provision works like this: If you currently have a sick time policy that allows your employees 4 days (32 hours) off per year for sick time use, then those employees are covered. However, if at this time you do not cover part time employees, you will need to enroll those employees in your sick time plan in order to be compliant with the Safe Harbor.

The way this works out is an employee who is currently working 20 hours per week should be granted 7.5 hours of sick time for the period of July 1, 2015 – December 31, 2015.

The breakdown is as follows:

  • 40 hours per week equals 30 hours per year paid sick time
  • 20 hours per week equals 15 hours per year paid sick time
  • July 1st to December 31st equals one half year
  • 15 hours of sick time per year divided by 2 equals 7.5 hours of sick time

Employers must also be aware that this Safe Harbor is only valid until December 31, 2015. After that, they will need to be in full compliance with the law, allowing employees to earn 1 hour of sick time for every 30 hours worked, as well as following all other provisions of the law.

More information about the new Earned Sick Time law can be found on our website by following the links in the sidebar, or on the Attorney General’s website at

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