A new Massachusetts law providing for COVID-19-related emergency paid sick leave (“EPSL”) was signed into law on May 28. Effective until the earlier of September 30, 2021 or the exhaustion of $75 M in program funds, as determined by the Commonwealth, employers must offer Massachusetts employees leave time for the reasons set forth below. Full-time employees are entitled to 40 hours of EPSL; part-time employees receive a pro-rated amount. This new EPSL allotment is over and above the 40 hours available under the earned sick leave law, and is payable at a maximum rate of $850 per week.
EPSL is available for the following reasons:
- 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 eligible to take the tax credit under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (“FFCRA”) may take the credit for EPSL provided to eligible employees. Employers not eligible for the tax credit under the FFCRA can apply for reimbursement from the state.
Employers who want to receive reimbursements from the Commonwealth for the costs of providing employees with COVID-19 Massachusetts emergency paid sick leave must require their employees to submit requests for COVID-19 emergency paid sick leave in writing. The information that must be provided is specified within recently-published employer guidance, which may be found here (the Commonwealth is in the process of drafting a standardized form, which will be published when complete). The guidance also describes the law’s anti-retaliation provision.
Employees must immediately post a Notice, which may be found here.
As always, please do not hesitate to reach out to your Bello Welsh attorney with questions.