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:
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.