Supreme Judicial Court Holds that Sick Pay is Not a Wage Under Massachusetts Wage Act
The Massachusetts Wage Act may be the most employee-friendly statute around. Employees who succeed with claims under the Wage Act have their damages mandatorily tripled and their attorneys' fees paid. Those damages are mandatory and apply equally to employers who make honest mistakes and those violate the Act intentionally.
The Wage Act, however, only applies to payments that are considered "wages." The passage of the Massachusetts Earned Sick Time Law had caused some lawyers and employers to wonder if paid sick time could be construed as "wages" for purposes of the Massachusetts Wage Act. If they are "wages," then employees could bring claims under the Massachusetts Wage Act and acccess triple damage penalties when employers fail to pay for sick time.
The Supreme Judicial Court recently resolved this doubt by deciding that sick time, even that time provided under the Earned Sick Time Law, is not considered "wages" for purposes of the Massachusetts Wage Act.
This important decision regarding sick time and unpaid wages applies to employers and employees in Pittsfield, Springfield, Worcester, Lowell, Fall River, New Bedford, and the Cape. If you have questions or would like to discuss your employment law issue, contact us for a free consultation.