Employment Law Alert

2016 New Year’s News for Employers

December 28, 2015

Are you ready for 2016? There are a few important changes to keep in mind, as well as recommendations to get your employment law practices in order in the new year.

Minimum Wage Goes Up. The Massachusetts minimum hourly wage goes up to $10.00 per hour on January 1, 2016, and the service rate goes up to $3.35 per hour (the service rate is for employees who receive tips of more than $20.00 per month and their average hourly tips, when added to the service rate, are equal to at least $10.00 per hour).

Earned Sick Leave Safe Harbor Ends. The Massachusetts earned sick leave law which required employers to allow employees to accrue up to five days of paid sick leave per year (unpaid, if the employer has less than 11 employees) went into effect on July 1, 2015, but employers who offered sufficient sick leave or paid time off to workers had the option of using a transition period in which to bring their policies into compliance with the new Massachusetts paid sick leave law. That transition period is about to end; all employers must comply with the earned sick leave law by January 1, 2016, offering paid sick leave to all employees, including part-time, temporary, and interns. Check your policies to make sure you are in compliance.

Sexual Harassment Law Compliance. Massachusetts law requires that employers with six or more employees not only have a sexual harassment policy and give it out to new employees when they start work but also that an individual copy be distributed to each employee annually. The beginning of the year is a good time to do this. Have employees sign an acknowledgement form indicating that they have received and read the policy, and keep it in their personnel files. Anti-harassment training can be conducted at the same time.

Data Protection Compliance. Put a “WISP” (Written Information Security Plan) into place, if you don’t have one already, to comply with Massachusetts law and protect personal information, and make sure that your employees receive regular training so that the employees who will have access to personal information know what their obligations are regarding the protection of that information, as set forth in the law.

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