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Massachusetts Earned Sick Time Policy

Section 521

This policy is designed to comply with the Massachusetts earned sick leave law and provide employees with up to 40 hours of paid sick time per benefit year (July 1 through June 30). This policy also delineates the appropriate use of sick time and outlines how to request time off.


This policy applies to all employees of Smith College, including non–benefits eligible employees, casual employees, temporary employees, and summer student employees.

Terms and Conditions of Use of Earned Sick Time

Accrual of Sick Time

Under the Massachusetts earned sick time law, all employees subject to this policy will be eligible to accrue and use paid sick time. Employees will accrue paid sick time at the rate of one (1) hour for every thirty (30) hours worked per fiscal year, from July 1 to June 30, up to a maximum of 40 hours. Employees may carry into the next fiscal year up to 40 hours of unused sick time, but may not earn, accrue, or hold more than 40 hours in their bank of earned sick time.

Use of Sick Time

Employees may not use more than 40 hours of earned sick time per fiscal year, nor may they earn more than 40 hours of sick in a fiscal year. Accrual of sick time begins on July 1 but may not be used time until ninety (90) days after the individual’s start date. Earned sick time may be used for full- or partial-day absences.

Earned sick time is provided to enable employees to: 

  • Care for a child (or legal ward), parent, spouse, or parent of a spouse who is suffering from a physical or mental illness, injury, or other medical condition that requires home, preventive, or professional care;
  • Care for the individual’s own physical or mental illness, injury, or other medical condition that requires home, preventive, or professional care; 
  • Address the psychological, physical, or legal effects of domestic violence; 
  • Travel to and from an appointment, a pharmacy, or another location related to the purpose for which the time was taken.

Absence Notification Procedures

If an employee determines that they need to be absent, to be late, or to leave work early, the employee must give advance notice to his or her supervisor. Notice should be provided in person or by telephone, e-mail, or text. If the employee is unable to provide notice personally, notice may be provided by a spouse, another family member, or another responsible party. 

If the absence is foreseeable (for example, if the employee plans to go to a previously scheduled appointment), the employee must provide seven (7) days’ advance notice, or more if possible. If the absence is not foreseeable, the employee must provide notice to his or her supervisor at least one (1) hour before the start of the employee’s shift. If one (1) hours’ notice is not feasible due to sudden illness or emergency, notice must be provided as soon as is practicable. If an employee is going to be absent on multiple days, the individual should provide notice for each day of absence.  

Documentation of Use of Sick Time

If an employee uses sick time for a period that lasts more than twenty-four (24) consecutively scheduled hours or three (3) consecutive workdays, Smith College will generally require the employee to submit within seven (7) days of taking the time off a note from a healthcare provider that confirms the need to use earned sick time. The employee’s manager should notify Human Resources of absences that last longer than twenty-four (24) consecutively scheduled hours or three (3) consecutive workdays. 

The college may also require written documentation from the employee’s healthcare provider if the absence occurs within two (2) weeks of the employee’s scheduled termination date or if the employee has had four (4) unforeseeable and undocumented absences within a three-month period. If the earned sick time is taken for permissible non-medical reasons, the college may require the employee to submit a written statement or other documentation providing evidence of the need to use earned sick time.

Expectations Regarding Attendance

Employees should remember that regular, reliable attendance and timeliness is expected. If an employee commits fraud or abuse by engaging in an activity that is not consistent with allowable purposes for sick time, the employee may be subject to disciplinary action, including termination of employment.

Interaction with Other Types of Leave

Sick time will run concurrently with all applicable leaves, including FMLA, MA PFML, Parental Leave, Family Leave, Small Necessities Leave, and Domestic Violence Leave.

Break in Service

Employees who experience a break in service of up to one (1) year and return to work at the college within that time period will receive, according to their new status, sick time or their earned-sick-time balance of up to five (5) days, whichever is greater. Such employees can use their earned-sick-time balance of up to five (5) days immediately upon returning to work.

If you have questions relating to the new law, please contact the Office of Human Resources, at 413-585-2213.