January 2015: Employment Law Updates and Your Questions

January 2015 Meeting: Employment Law Updates and Your Questions

Jeffrey S. Siegel summarized recent legislative measures that will impact organizations in Massachusetts, including the Domestic Violence Leave law and the paid sick leave ballot measure.

Internship Wage & Hour Litigation

Though most of the current and recent internship Wage & Hour litigation has been in the for-profit sector, the nonprofit sector may not be completely immune from issues surrounding interns in the future. For now however, unpaid internships in the public sector and for non-profit charitable organizations, where the intern volunteers without expectation of compensation, are generally permissible. This is recognized by the Department of Labor. State law is a different arena and the law has not been updated related to this matter but it is considered an area of low exposure.

Minimum Wage Increases in Massachusetts

January 1, 2015:   $9.00
January 1, 2016:  $10.00
January 1, 2017:  $11.00

MA Domestic Violence Leave
  • Creates a new right to leave for employees related to incidents of domestic violence.
  • Employers with 50 or more employees must provide up to 15 days of leave in any 12 month period for the employee, or for a covered family member.
  • Leave is only applicable if the employee, or a family member of the employee, is a victim of abusive behavior.
  • Employer is not required to pay the employee for the leave.
  • Employee seeking leave under the law must first exhaust all personal, sick and vacation time.
  • Employee is required to provide the employer with advance notice of decision to use leave.
  • Employee is entitled to restoration of original job following leave.
MA Paid Sick Leave:  Effective July 1, 2015
  • Affects employers with 11 or more employees:  employees must be able to earn up to 40 hours of sick time per calendar year.
  • This is to take care of self; a parent/spouse or child; another immediate family member; attend routine medical appointments; or domestic violence.
  • The same amount must be able to be carried over from prior year.
  • Combined PTO time is fine as long as the ability to carryover up to 40 hours is possible.
  • Part-time employees are included under this law. If their schedules are variable, like per diem or seasonal workers, this makes things more complicated but employers will need to find a way to track time and offer pro-rated paid sick time accordingly.
  • Pay-out of unused earned sick time is not required.

Note that policies relating to paid time off may need to change resulting from this law. With the carryover provision, employers may want to consider capping the amount of paid sick time that an employee can have in a given calendar year, as long as it is higher than the required 40 hours (because the carryover amount plus any new amounts earned during the next year, may create a burden for the organization).

Jeffrey S. Siegel is a partner at Morgan, Brown & Joy, LLP where he represents employers in labor and employment matters, including litigation, claims of discrimination, improper payment of wages, breach of contract, wrongful termination, and defamation. He represents employers in a variety of industries, including not-forprofit, retail, technology, financial services, transportation, and health sciences.