Mass. Voters Back Earned Sick Time Law

Massachusetts voters have approved a ballot question that will give every worker in the state access to sick time.

The measure, Question 4, passed with clear support; with 94 percent of precincts reporting, 60 percent of voters backed it, while 40 percent were opposed.

The law will allow all Massachusetts workers — part- and full-timers — the chance to accrue and use up to 40 hours of sick time a year. (An hour of sick time is accrued per 30 hours of work.) Employees of companies with 11 or more workers will have access to paid sick time, while employees of smaller businesses can receive unpaid sick time.

A spokesman for Raise Up Massachusetts, the coalition behind the ballot question, said, if passed, the state law would be the most "comprehensive" sick time policy in the country.

The coalition hailed the vote in a statement late Tuesday.

"This vote shows that the people of Massachusetts fundamentally believe that the ability to care and provide for themselves and family members is a right, not a privilege," the statement said. "For the almost one million workers in Massachusetts who today can’t take a single day of paid sick time, this vote is a major victory."

Opponents of the measure, including the Massachusetts Restaurant Association and the Retailers Association of Massachusetts, call it a costly one-size-fits-all mandate that will primarily harm small businesses.

Bob Luz, president and CEO of the restaurant association, said in a statement that the law "will bring both intended and unintended consequences."

He added: "The MRA will monitor the impacts of this law as it is implemented on behalf of our members and our industry, and we stand ready to address any issues that may arise and work collaboratively on constructive solutions."

The earned sick time law takes effect on July 1, 2015.

This article was originally published on November 04, 2014.

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Benjamin Swasey Digital Manager
Ben is WBUR's digital news manager.



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