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Massachusetts Paid Time Off Laws

Massachusetts Paid Time Off Laws: All About MA PTO Laws

Massachusetts paid time off (PTO) legal framework ensures that employers and employees exist in a fair work environment. As an employer in the state, you must be aware of MA PTO laws not only for legal requirements but also for facilitating a positive work environment, retaining talent, and ensuring compliance with the state’s labor regulations.

Compliance with these Massachusetts PTO laws helps businesses avoid costly legal disputes, maintain a motivated and productive workforce, and establish a reputation as a responsible employer.

This article explores MA PTO laws and provides an overview of various types of leaves and PTO payouts at termination.

1. Vacation time-off

Massachusetts does not require employers to provide employees with paid or unpaid vacation time. Still, most employers offer paid vacation as a benefit to attract and retain employees. However, as there is no regulation, vacation time off policies typically vary from employer to employer.

Also, if employers provide paid or unpaid vacation time off, they should share all the related policies with employees, including accrual rates, usage restrictions, and payout rules. To maintain fairness and consistency, employers should communicate their vacation policies and apply them uniformly to all employees.

Additionally, paid time off laws in Massachusetts don’t mandate vacation days; however, if agreed, employers must pay out vacation time upon an employee’s termination.

2. Sick leave

Massachusetts observes the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which mandates eligible employees unpaid sick leave. Employees working for a company with 50 or more workers at one location and working for the current employer for at least 12 months or worked 1,250 hours the previous year. Employees can use sick time for their illness or medical needs or to care for a family member.

3. Paid sick leave

Massachusetts is the third state in the U.S. to guarantee paid sick time off for employees. It mandates that all private employers provide paid sick leave to employees. However, small business owners are not required to pay for sick time off. Paid sick leave in Massachusetts is governed by the Earned Sick Time Law, which aims to provide eligible employees with paid time off to address their own or a family member’s illness, medical needs, or issues related to domestic violence or abuse.

4. Accrual of sick time

All eligible employees in Massachusetts accrue sick time at a rate of one hour of earned sick time for every 30 hours worked. However, this accrual is not infinite, and an employee can accrue up to 40 hours of earned sick time per calendar year.

5. Bereavement Leave

Employers in Massachusetts are not required to offer bereavement leave for employees. Bereavement leave is time off granted to employees following the death of a family member or loved one and is not legally required under Massachusetts labor regulations.

Employers have sole discretion in offering bereavement leave as part of their employee benefits. Most employers still provide bereavement leave to support their employees during difficult times.

6. Jury Duty Leave

Massachusetts law recognizes the importance of jury service in the judicial system and mandates that employers provide time off for serving on a jury. It applies to most employees in Massachusetts, including full-time, part-time, and temporary employees.

The length of jury duty leave can vary depending on the specific case, court, and trial duration. Jurors are typically required to serve for the trial, and employers cannot discriminate or take any adverse actions against employees serving on a jury.

Massachusetts law requires employers to provide regular wages to employees for the first three days of jury duty. After that, the government will pay the jury $50 a day to the serving employees.

5. Military Leave

Massachusetts has laws to protect the employment rights of members of the National Guard and other reserve components of the U.S. Armed Forces. These laws ensure that employees who serve in the military can return to their civilian jobs without adverse consequences.

The state implements the federal Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) for military leave.

In addition to USERRA, Massachusetts law protects employees serving in active military duty from any discrimination at the workplace once they join back. The length of military leave can vary depending on the specific deployment or service requirements.

Employees may be called for short-term training or extended deployments, and their job protection rights apply accordingly.

6. Voting Leave

Massachusetts law provides employees in specific industries unpaid time off to vote during certain elections. This includes employees in mercantile, manufacturing, and mechanical industries. Employers in these sectors should provide workers with paid time off in between work hours to cast their vote during elections.

The specific conditions and requirements for voting leave may vary, but employees should be able to exercise their right to vote without fear of negative repercussions from their employers.

Eligibility for paid sick leave in Massachusetts

Paid sick leave law applies to all employers with 11 or more employees. Employers in Massachusetts with fewer than 11 employees must provide unpaid sick leave under the law. All types of employees are eligible for paid sick leave, including part-time and full-time employees and seasonal and temporary workers.

Use of earned sick leave

All employees can use their accrued earned sick time for various purposes, including:

Their illness or medical needs include routine medical appointments, treatment for chronic conditions, and recovery from diseases or injuries.

To tend to medical care for a family member. Employees can use earned sick time to care for a spouse, domestic partner, child, parent, or parent of a spouse or domestic partner who requires care due to illness, medical needs, or medical appointments.

Issues related to domestic violence or abuse include seeking medical or legal assistance, attending court hearings, or participating in safety planning.

Notice and documentation

Employees are expected to notify employers to maintain business operations without staff shortage. That is why employers can require employees to provide reasonable notice of their intention to use earned sick time when necessary.

Also, employers may require documentation for paid sick leave if the earned sick time is used for more than 24 consecutive work hours or 3 working days. However, employees are not required to disclose the cause of sick leave or medical condition in the documentation.

Carryover of earned sick time

Employees can carry over 40 hours of unused earned sick time to the following calendar year. Employers can also frontload 40 hours of paid sick time at the start of the year so they don’t have to allow carryover of earned sick time.

Payout of unused earned sick time at termination

Massachusetts law does not require employers to pay employees unused earned sick time upon termination.

Employers are prohibited from taking any adverse action against employees who exercise their rights under the Massachusetts Earned Sick Time Law.

What happens to PTO Payout at termination?

Earned paid time off is termed wages, and Massachusetts employers should pay employees unused PTO upon termination.

Any unused sick leave is not mandatory and must be paid in the final paycheck. The payout of accrued, unused vacation days at termination in Massachusetts is generally subject to the policies and practices established by the employer.

Employers should have a clear and well-documented PTO policy that outlines their stance on PTO payout at termination. This policy should be communicated to employees.

In some cases, the terms of PTO payout may be governed by employment contracts, collective bargaining agreements, or other legally binding agreements between the employer and employee. These agreements should be followed in case of termination.

Unlimited Paid Time Off and Wage and Hour Laws

Unlimited PTO policies are gaining traction in Massachusetts. It allows employees to take as much time off as needed but has a reverse effect as employees take less vacation due to uncertainty about acceptable limits.

Additionally, offering unlimited PTO complicates payout during termination. Employers make the case that as there is a complete PTO policy, employees have no PTO days that have been “accrued.”

On the other hand, terminated employees argue that employers should be obligated to pay the unused PTO just because they offer unlimited PTO. Offering unlimited PTO does not affect an exempt employee’s exempt status as long as they continue to receive their full salary for any week they perform work, with limited exceptions.

In Massachusetts, employers are generally not required to pay out accrued, unused vacation time at termination, regardless of whether the PTO policy is unlimited. However, the policy should be communicated to employees.

Statutory Provisions Addressing Vacation Pay

In Massachusetts, employers should treat vacation time as wages. The state requires employers to pay out unused PTO to their employees. While it is at the employer’s discretion to decide whether or not to offer paid vacation benefits to their employees, if they agree to provide paid time off, they must abide by the agreed policies.

If an employer provides paid vacation, they typically establish rules for how employees accrue vacation time and how it can be used. These rules should be communicated clearly to employees.

Payment of accrued, unused vacation on termination

MA PTO laws are clear on the payment of accrued, unused vacation on termination. State law does require employers to pay out accrued vacation time to employees upon termination if it is agreed in the employment contract.

Massachusetts law does not mandate accrued sick leave time payout upon termination. Instead, it is left to the employer’s discretion to determine their policy on this matter. The terms of vacation payout at termination may also be governed by employment contracts, collective bargaining agreements, or other legally binding agreements between the employer and employee.

Employers should adhere to these agreements when making termination payments. This is why employers should communicate their vacation policies, including the treatment of accrued vacation at termination, to employees.

Massachusetts State Holidays 2024

Here is a tentative Massachusetts state holiday calendar for 2024. Please note that these dates are subject to change or may be observed by certain employers or institutions on different days. Holidays falling on Saturday are observed on Friday; holidays that fall on Sunday are observed on Monday.


Date in 2024

General Date

New Year’s Day 2024

Monday, January 1

January 1

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Monday, January 15

3rd Monday in January

Washington’s Birthday

Monday, February 19

3rd Monday in February

Patriots Day

Monday, April 15

3rd Monday in April

Memorial Day

Monday, May 27

Last Monday in May


Wednesday, June 19

June 19

Independence Day

Thursday, July 4

July 4

Labor Day

Monday, September 2

1st Monday in September

Columbus Day

Monday, October 14

2nd Monday in October

Veterans Day

Monday, November 11

November 11

Thanksgiving Day

Thursday, November 28

4th Thursday of November

Christmas Day

Wednesday, Dec. 25

December 25

How does Truein help with paid time-off management?

Truein is a modern time and attendance tracking software with a robust leave management system. It offers a range of features and benefits to help businesses effectively manage their employees’ paid time off (PTO).

Its automated PTO leave request mechanism allows employees to submit PTO requests using the Truein smartphone app. Managers and supervisors can directly review and approve the requests from their applications. This streamlines the request process and ensures that requests are properly documented. 

Its cloud-based and centralized data storage allows employees and managers to access real-time leave balances to check how much PTO they have accrued and how much they have used. This transparency reduces confusion and ensures that employees have accurate information.

Furthermore, Truein has over 70 customizable policy templates. Employers can configure the templates to align with their company’s specific PTO policies and rules. Whether you have a standard accrual system, unlimited PTO, or other unique policies, Truein can adapt to your needs. 

The system automates PTO accrual calculations based on your chosen policies and tracks accrual over time. This reduces the risk of errors and ensures employees receive the correct amount of PTO. Policy creation and customization can ensure your company complies with relevant labor laws and regulations, such as accrual caps or mandatory leave.

Truein integrates with most payroll software, ensuring that PTO balances and payouts are accurately reflected in payroll processing. Robust reporting and analytics features also allow HR and management to generate reports on PTO usage, trends, and employee attendance. These insights can inform decision-making and resource planning.

Learn more about Truein’s leave management features.


Our guide on Massachusetts Paid Time Off (PTO) laws provides an elaborate overview for employers to maintain legal compliance within their company’s policies and practices. It is crucial to follow Massachusetts’ specific laws governing all types of leaves, including vacation, sick leave, and termination payouts.

Additionally, using PTO management systems, Truein helps organizations manage paid time off efficiently, reduce administrative burden, and enhance employee satisfaction. Truein ensures compliance with company policies and labor laws, streamlines communication between employees and managers, and offers valuable insights for decision-making and planning.

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