COVID-19 Emergency Paid Sick Leave Mandated

On May 28, 2021, Gov. Baker signed House No. 3702 into law, mandating COVID-19 emergency paid sick leave for Massachusetts residents. From May 28, 2021, through September 30, 2021, employees can take up to 40 hours of COVID-19 Massachusetts emergency paid sick leave (MA EPSL). All employers, except for the federal government, must provide MA EPSL, and the law establishes a state fund that will be used to reimburse employers for the leave they provide.

Under MA EPSL, employers are required to offer up to 40 hours of EPSL to Massachusetts employees who usually work 40 hours per week. Employees working part-time hours would be entitled to the number of hours they would normally work in a 14-day span. Employees may take MA EPSL if they are absent from work due to:

  • The employee’s need to self-isolate and care for themselves due to a COVID-19 diagnosis.
  • The employee’s need to care for a family member who is self-isolating due to a COVID-19 diagnosis or needs 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, or the employee’s employer that the employee’s presence at work would jeopardize the health of others because of the employee’s potential symptoms of or exposure to COVID-19.
  • The employee’s need to care for a family member who has received one of the above orders or determinations.
  • The employee’s inability to telework because of a COVID-19 diagnosis with inhibiting symptoms.

For these purposes, a family member includes the spouse, domestic partner, child, parent or parent of a spouse or domestic partner of the employee. An employee may also take leave to care for a person who stood in loco parentis to the employee when such employee was a minor child or a grandchild, grandparent or sibling of the employee, but only if the employee has a personal relationship with the person.

Importantly, MA EPSL must be provided in addition to any other job-protected leave, including leaves provided pursuant to the Massachusetts Earned Sick Time Law, collective bargaining agreements, federal law or the employers existing leave policies. The maximum compensation for MA EPSL is up to $850 per week, and that amount would be reduced if the amount an employee would receive due to other forms of paid time off (plus the MA EPSL) exceeds their normal pay.

The newly established COVID-19 EPSL Fund will reimburse eligible employers for providing employees with the COVID-19 EPSL. In order to claim the reimbursement, the employer should request that employees requesting the leave provide the employer a written request for COVID-19 EPSL which includes the following:

  • The employee’s name.
  • The dates for which leave is requested and taken.
  • A statement of the reason the employee is requesting leave and written support for it.
  • A statement that the employee is unable to work, including by telework.
  • If the reason for leave is based on a quarantine order or self-quarantine recommendation, the employee should include the name of the governmental entity or healthcare provider that ordered the quarantine. If the employee is taking care of a family member that is quarantining, the employee should include the name of the family member.

Massachusetts will soon provide a notice regarding MA EPSL, and employers are required to distribute that to all employees. The state also intends to provide additional guidance on the law as employers implement it.

Given that the law became effective on May 28, 2021, employers with Massachusetts employees should immediately familiarize themselves with this bill and provide EPSL in accordance with the requirement.

H. No. 3702 »