Massachusetts passed a law on May 28, 2021, that requires Massachusetts private and public employers (except federal employers) to provide up to 40 hours of paid emergency sick leave to employees for certain COVID-19 related reasons. This law goes into effect on June 7, 2021 and is currently scheduled to expire on September 30, 2021. This benefit is in addition to Massachusetts Earned Sick Time law, but subject to certain exceptions. All applicable employers must provide this emergency paid sick leave, but these employers will be eligible to obtain reimbursement from the Commonwealth for the payment of this sick leave.
This Massachusetts emergency paid sick leave only applies to absences for certain COVID-19 related reasons. The qualifying reasons under this law include absences related to:
- An employee’s need to: (i) self-isolate and care for oneself because of the employee’s COVID-19 diagnosis; (ii) seek or obtain medical diagnosis, care or treatment for COVID-19 symptoms; or (iii) obtain immunization related to COVID-19 or the employee is recovering from an injury, disability, illness or condition related to such immunization;
- An employee’s need to care for a family member who: (i) is self-isolating due to a COVID-19 diagnosis; or (ii) needs medical diagnosis, care or treatment for COVID-19 symptoms;
- A quarantine order, or other determination by a local, state or federal public official, a health authority having jurisdiction, the employee’s employer or a health care provider that the employee’s presence on the job or in the community would jeopardize the health of others because of the employee’s exposure to COVID-19 or exhibiting of symptoms, regardless of whether the employee has been diagnosed with COVID-19;
- An employee’s need to care for a family member due to a quarantine order, or other determination by a local, state or federal public official, a health authority having jurisdiction, the family member’s employer or a health care provider that the family member’s presence on the job or in the community would jeopardize the health of others because of the family member’s exposure to COVID-19, regardless of whether the family member has been diagnosed with COVID-19; or
- An employee’s inability to telework because the employee has been diagnosed with COVID-19 and the symptoms inhibit the ability of the employee to telework.
Employees working 40 hours or more for an employer will be eligible for up to 40 hours of the emergency paid leave, and for employees working less than 40 hours per week will be eligible for up to the average number of hours that the employer works per week. If the employee work schedule varies, the employer must also provide leave that is equal to the average number of hours the employee was scheduled to work over past six months.
The maximum benefit available to the employee for this emergency paid sick leave is $850 per week. Employers may provide additional leave under their own policy, but the employer cannot seek reimbursement from the Commonwealth for any amounts over $850 for that employee’s absence. If the employer has a separate COVID-19 sick policy that meets these requirements, the employer need not provide an additional 40 hours of paid emergency sick leave. An employer cannot claim any offset to this leave for any leave that an employee used before June 7, 2021 for a COVID-19 reason.
The employer’s requests for reimbursements will be through an application to the Commonwealth. Employers with fewer than 500 employees that voluntarily provide sick leave during the extension of the Family First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) through September 30, 2021, may still obtain that tax credit they will not be eligible for reimbursement from the Commonwealth.
Employers will need to maintain all employee benefits during this leave. Employers also have a notice to post for this emergency paid sick leave law, which should be issued shortly by the Commonwealth. Please stay tuned to my website for copies of this notice or the Commonwealth’s website at www.Mass.gov.
For any questions on how this law will impact your business or interact with other leave laws, please contact Pomeroy Law PC at 978-358-7550 or firstname.lastname@example.org.