Earned sick time is good for workers — and businesses

New law should be implemented fully and without delay

MASSACHUSETTS VOTERS PASSED the earned sick time ballot question by an overwhelming margin last November and the Commonwealth’s new earned sick time law is scheduled to begin on July 1.  Attorney General Maura Healey has released preliminary regulations and scheduled a series of hearings across the state to solicit public input.  Regrettably, last ditch efforts to postpone the law and diminish its vital benefits are surfacing on Beacon Hill.

Nearly 1 million workers in Massachusetts are today unable to earn a single day of paid sick time at their job, forcing them to risk their financial stability to tend to an illness, or go to work sick in order to keep their job.  Earned sick time will ensure that all workers in Massachusetts can earn time to take care of their own health, the health of their children, and that of and close family members without losing critical wages or their job.

All Massachusetts workers will earn up to 40 hours of sick time each calendar year. Employers with 10 or fewer workers will provide unpaid sick time. Employers with 11 or more workers will provide paid sick time. Workers who must take earned time because of an illness are protected from employer retaliation.

As business owners and leaders, we believe the state should implement the law on schedule, not just to follow the will of the voters, but because it is what’s best for the Massachusetts economy. Earned sick time is not just an employee benefit; it also helps businesses. This policy keeps workers more productive, healthier, and more likely to want to stay with their employer — all of which helps businesses’ bottom lines.

Cities with earned paid sick time policies have demonstrated higher job growth compared to surrounding counties.  Based on earned sick time usage at businesses that already offer it, studies project that, on average, Massachusetts workers will use less than three days a year.  Numerous studies demonstrate how earned sick time policies reduce worker turnover and stop the spread of contagious illness in workplaces.

The Alliance for Business Leadership is a coalition of progressive business leaders united in the belief that social responsibility and the sustainable growth of the Massachusetts economy go hand-in-hand. We are committed to creating growth and opportunity for everyone in the Commonwealth. The Alliance supported the passage of the earned sick time ballot question last fall, and we support the attorney general’s proposed regulations because we know that they are critical to contributing to fair, transparent, and sustainable markets.

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Workers should no longer have to make the impossible choice between their job and their own health or health of a family member.  Earned sick time is what’s best for workers and the long-term growth of the Massachusetts economy.  It’s time for Massachusetts to implement it.

Philip Edmundson is chairman and CEO of William Gallagher Associates. Jeffrey Bussgang is a general partner at Flybridge Capital Partners. Beverly Armstrong is chairman and CEO/brewmaster at Brazo Fuerte Beer. David Belluck is a managing partner at Riverside Partners LLC. David Gasson is vice president and director of corporate communications at Boston Capital Corporation. Dr. Joshua Boger is founder and retired CEO of Vertex Pharmaceuticals.  The authors comprise the executive committee of the Alliance for Business Leadership board of directors.