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State's Earned Sick Time Law Goes Into Effect

Backers of the state's earned sick time law — which voters easily approved in the fall, and which takes effect Wednesday — rallied Tuesday, saying the new law will extend benefits to nearly 1 million workers.

"Hard-working people no longer risk losing their job if they have to stay home to care for themselves or for a sick child," Deb Fastino, co-chair of Raise Up Massachusetts, the coalition that successfully put sick time on November's ballot, said at the Boston rally, according to the group.

Starting Wednesday, all Massachusetts workers — part- and full-timers — will have the chance to accrue and use up to 40 hours of sick time a year. Employees of companies with 11 or more workers will have access to paid sick time, while workers at smaller businesses can receive unpaid time.

“From construction workers at the airport to people who just push wheelchairs to people who clean the airport, everyone needs paid sick time. Period," said Jonathan Cornier, an airport worker from Jamaica Plain.

Cornier said he hurt his arms on the job last year, missing two months of work. While recovering, he used up his vacation time and the remaining days he went unpaid.

After soliciting public and business input, state Attorney General Maura Healey on June 19 issued final regulations for the sick time law.

Healey also appeared at the rally Tuesday. “This isn't the first paid sick time law in the country, but it is the most expansive," she said.

Business groups worry about compliance with the new law, especially for small companies without human resources departments. They criticized the law last year, calling it a costly one-size-fits-all mandate.

With reporting by WBUR's Benjamin Swasey and State House News Service

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