Massachusetts Extends Emergency Paid Sick Leave Benefits to April 1, 2022

The Massachusetts legislature recently voted to extend the state’s emergency COVID-19 sick leave law from September 20, 2021, when it was set to expire, until April 1, 2022. Governor Baker signed the extension on September 29, and employers consequently must continue to provide sick leave benefits to employees who miss work for COVID-related reasons.

The law took effect late last Spring. While requiring that employees be  paid for absences beyond the sick leave that is already required by existing state law (up to 40 hours/year, which must be paid by employers of more than 11 workers), it provides a fund of $75 million to reimburse employers for their expenses. Only about $2 million of the fund was used in the first months of the law’s effectiveness. It requires paid leave of up to 40  hours for full-time employees, prorated to the average weekly hours for part-timers, under the following circumstances:

  1. To self-isolate or care for him/herself due to a COVID-19 diagnosis;
  2. To seek or obtain medical care for COVID-19 symptoms;
  3. To obtain a COVID-19 immunization, or to recover from the effects of one; or
  4. To care for a family member who is self-isolating, requires COVID-19 care, or is obtaining an immunization or recovering from the effects of one.

The leave can be used intermittently, and employees are required to give as much advance notice to their employers as they are able. Employers must maintain their employees’ normal benefits. Payments for lost wages are capped at $850.