Know the Law: Does my company have to provide paid sick leave for employees who work in Massachusetts?

December 7, 2015

Published in the Union Leader (12/7/2015)

Q. I have a couple of employees who work in Massachusetts.  Does my company have to provide them with paid sick leave?

A. Yes, it might have to. NH companies that have employees whose primary place of work is Massachusetts have to comply with the Massachusetts Earned Sick Time law as it applies to those Massachusetts employees.

The new law applies to businesses with employees whose “primary place of work” is Massachusetts. The regulations specify that an employee does not have to spend 50% of his/her work time in Massachusetts for it to be considered his/her primary place of work. For example, a painter works 40% of her hours in Massachusetts, 30% in New Hampshire and 30% in other states. Massachusetts is her primary place of work. All the hours the painter worked would be applied toward accrual of earned sick time, regardless of the location of the work.

After determining whether the company has employees whose primary place of work is Massachusetts, the total number of employees must be counted to determine whether paid or unpaid sick leave must be provided.   All of the company’s employees, including full-time, part-time, seasonal, and temporary employees, whether working in or outside Massachusetts must be counted. The company must provide unpaid sick leave if it has 11 or fewer employees, and paid sick leave if it has more than 11 employees.  In addition, employees must accrue sick time at a rate of 1 hour of sick time for every 30 hours worked.


NH Companies must determine whether they have employees who primarily work in Massachusetts, whether those employees are entitled to paid or unpaid leave, and whether the company’s current sick time policy complies in terms of accrual and days allocated. There isn’t much time left to become compliant. While the law came into effect July 1, 2015, a safe harbor provision was implemented to give companies that meet certain criteria the ability to become compliant by January 1, 2016.

Beth Deragon can be reached at

Know the Law is a bi-weekly column sponsored by McLane Middleton, Professional Association.   We invite your questions of business law.  Questions and ideas for future columns should be addressed to:  McLane Middleton, P.O. Box 888, Manchester, NH 03101 or emailed to  Know the Law provides general legal information, not legal advice.  We recommend that you consult a lawyer for guidance specific to your particular situation.