What Does Legal Marijuana Mean for Massachusetts Employers?

Yesterday, Massachusetts voters approved a law permitting recreational use of marijuana by a margin of 53.6 percent to 46.4 percent.   Numerous employers have asked how this impacts the workplace.  Are employees entitled to utilize recreational marijuana at work or on a break?  Do employers have to allow for marijuana use as an accommodation to a disability?  Can employers no longer enforce drug/alcohol-free workplace policies as they relate to marijuana?

Thankfully, the 12-page statute provides clarity for employers wondering how this affects the workplace in Section 2(e):

(e) This chapter shall not require an employer to permit or accommodate conduct otherwise allowed by this chapter (i.e. the use of recreational marijuana) in the workplace and shall not affect the authority of employers to enact and enforce workplace policies restricting the consumption of marijuana by employees.    

This section makes clear that employers will not have to allow marijuana use in the workplace and will still be able to enforce a drug-use policy that restricts the consumption of marijuana by employees. 

Employers who do not have a drug/alcohol-free workplace policy should have one.  Employers who have not updated their policies since the 2012 legislation legalizing medical marijuana should do so.  Please contact us if you would like assistance in drafting or reviewing workplace policies to be sure they comply with these laws.    

Time for Vermont Employers to Prepare for New Sick Leave Law

As of January 1, 2017, Vermont will become the fifth state to have a paid sick leave law.  Employers with five or fewer employees who are employed for an average of 30 hours or more per week will not be subject to the law until January 1, 2018.

According to this new law, employees who work an average of 18 hours or more per week are eligible to accrue one hour of paid sick leave for every 52 hours worked.  The law generally requires employees to be entitled to carryover unused sick time from year-to-year, but limits an employee’s use of accrued sick time to 24 or 40 hours in any 12-month period, depending on the year in which it was accrued.   Employers may implement a one-year waiting period prior to allowing employees to utilize paid sick leave.  During the waiting period, however, employees will accrue paid sick time. 

The new law allows employees to utilize paid sick leave to (1) care for their own or a family member’s illness or need for medical care, (2) obtain services or care associated with domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking suffered by the employee or a family member, and (3) to care for a family member because the school or business they attend is closed for public health or safety reasons. 

Employers with Vermont employees should review and revise their leave policies in advance of the new law’s implementation.  If you have any questions about this proposed law or any other employment issue, please feel free to contact us