Massachusetts’ COVID-19 paid sick leave has been extended through April 2022.
The emergency paid sick leave measure was set to expire Sept. 30, 2021, but the law was amended the day before, extending its effective timeline.
In addition to extending the date of the paid leave law, lawmakers also expanded covered reasons for use.
COVID-19 emergency paid leave in Massachusetts is now set to expire April 1, 2022, or once the $75 million in funds is exhausted, whichever is earlier. (However, only a little more than $2 million of the $75 million allocated has been used.)
A new labor law notice in English was also issued on Oct. 6, 2021, and it will soon be available in other languages. Massachusetts’ COVID-19 paid sick leave applies to all employers in the state.
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Massachusetts COVID-19 Paid Leave
Under the law, employers must provide 40 hours of COVID-19 emergency paid sick leave to full-time employees.
For employees who work less than 40 hours a week, the paid sick leave provided must equal the average number of hours the employee works during a week. (Similar formulas apply for employees whose schedule varies, including those who haven’t worked for an employer for six months but will be rehired.)
The maximum amount an employer is required to pay per employee, and the maximum amount for which the employer may seek reimbursement for any one employee, is $850 (including cost of benefits).
Reasons for Use
Reasons for using emergency COVID-19 paid sick leave in Massachusetts have been expanded.
First, the leave must be provided to employees who cannot work for several COVID-related reasons:
- To isolate and care for themselves because of a positive COVID-19 diagnosis
- To get care, treatment or a diagnosis
- To get the vaccine or recover from its effects
The above reasons for use also now apply if a family member is impacted. Other allowed reasons for taking COVID-19 paid sick leave in Massachusetts, applying to both workers and their family members, include:
- Quarantine orders, both governmental and through a healthcare provider
- Inability to work remotely because of COVID-19
Employers should note that, generally, they may not require employees to use other types of available paid leave before they use COVID-19 emergency paid sick leave. Also, employers can’t require workers to search for or find a replacement employee to cover the time the employee will miss while using COVID-19 emergency paid sick leave.
Along with the providing paid sick leave and understanding the covered reasons for use, there are a couple of other items to note for employers with locations in Massachusetts.
- In order to receive reimbursements for the benefits, employers should have workers fill out requests for leave
- There are non-retaliation provisions within the law
The state website has more information for employers, including the notice to employees, how to apply for reimbursement and sample employee leave request forms.
Paid Sick Leave Nationwide
Even before the pandemic struck, paid sick leave laws were growing in number and complexity.
And several jurisdictions have stepped in during COVID-19 to supplement paid leave laws or update existing ones.
Still, with the end of the pandemic (hopefully) on the horizon, employers should still take note of any emergency paid leave laws that may be extended, especially in places such as California, where there are several.
The pandemic is still making waves in the world of employment law.
Companies with locations in Massachusetts should review the specifics of the emergency COVID-19 paid leave to maintain compliance and ensure reimbursement for leave taken by employees.