Massachusetts COVID-19 paid leave ends March 15, 2022.
State officials announced this week that its program is ending, yet another sign that the light may be at the end of the tunnel regarding employer requirements related to the pandemic. Mask mandates have been relaxed recently in several jurisdictions, and there are only a handful of COVID-19-related paid sick leave laws that remain active.
Massachusetts in the fall of 2021 announced that it would extend its emergency paid sick leave, which was originally set to expire in September 2021. At the time, the state said Massachusetts COVID paid sick leave would be extend through April 2022.
Now, it is expiring two weeks earlier than anticipated, on March 15, 2022.
Massachusetts COVID-19 Paid Sick Leave
Under the law, employers are required to make paid leave time available to employees for COVID-19-related illnesses, quarantine and vaccinations. Employers then apply for reimbursement from the state.
Meanwhile, when the law was extended last year, the state also expanded the reasons employees may take leave.
For a few more days, employers must provide 40 hours of paid leave to full-time employees. For employees working less than 40 hours a week, the leave provided must equal the average number of hours the employee works during a week.
The expanded reasons for use announced last fall covered family members in addition to employees to take leave:
- 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
Other covered use for COVID-19 paid sick leave in Massachusetts include:
- Quarantine orders, both governmental and through a healthcare provider
- Inability to work remotely because of COVID-19
Generally, employers cannot require workers to use other types of available paid leave before using COVID-19 paid sick leave. Also, employers may not 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.
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).
While COVID-19 paid sick leave in Massachusetts is coming to an end, employers should note that benefits for the state’s paid family and medical leave law have been in effect since Jan. 1, 2021.
The law applies to all employers in Massachusetts and allows eligible employees to take up to 26 weeks of paid leave for family and medical reasons.
Employers have had their hands full during the pandemic, and though some related laws are still active, it makes sense to re-evaluate the laws at the location level to ensure compliance.