The Commonwealth of Massachusetts has a new temporary sick leave program related to COVID-19. Under Chapter 16 of the Acts of 2021 (An Act Providing for Massachusetts COVID-19 Emergency Paid Sick Leave), employers are now required to make paid leave time available to employees for COVID-related illnesses, quarantine, and vaccinations. Employers may then apply for reimbursement from the state.
The emergency paid sick leave policy is effective between May 28th, 2021 and September 30th, 2021, or until the $75 million of funds allocated to the program have been exhausted.
Employers are required to provide 40 hours of COVID-19 emergency paid sick leave to qualifying employees who work 40 or more hours per week. For employees who regularly work less than 40 hours per week, employers must provide paid leave in an amount that is equal to the average weekly number of hours that the employee works. For employees with a varied schedule, the weekly average over the past six months will be used. The maximum amount that an employer is required to pay per employee is $850, including cost of benefits.
The following are qualifying reasons that an employee may receive emergency paid sick leave:
- An employee needs to
- Self-isolate due to a COVID-19 diagnosis
- Get a medical diagnosis, care, or treatment for COVID-19 symptoms
- Get or recover from a COVID-19 vaccination
- An employee needs to care for a family member who
- Must self-isolate due to a COVID-19 diagnosis
- Needs medical diagnosis, care or treatment for COVID-19 symptoms
- A quarantine order or similar determination regarding the employee by a local, state, or public official, a health authority having jurisdiction, or a health care provider
- An employee’s need to care for a family member due to a quarantine order or similar determination regarding the employee by a local, state, or public official, a health authority having jurisdiction, or a health care provider
- An employee’s inability to telework due to COVID-19 symptoms
Employers may apply for reimbursement of up to $850 per qualifying employee. Additional details on applying for reimbursement are expected to be released in the coming weeks. Current program details state that employers seeking reimbursement will be required to provide certain information about qualifying employees, including their name; date of leave; statement of COVID-19 related reason for leave; statement that the employee is unable to work or telework; the name of the governmental agency or health provider advising self-quarantine (if applicable); if the person subject to quarantine is not the employee, that person’s name and relation to employee (if applicable); the employee’s social security or tax ID number; the EIN associated with the position from which the employee took leave; the length of leave (in hours) and wages paid during that leave that are not eligible for federal tax credits and are not otherwise paid under any government program or law; benefits applicable to the employee taking leave; the number of hours in the employee’s regular schedule.
If you have questions about the new COVID-19 Emergency Paid Sick Leave Program in Massachusetts, leave a comment below, or feel free to reach out to me directly, I’m happy to help!