On May 28, 2021, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker signed into law the “A law providing for COVID-19 emergency paid sick leave in Massachusetts.” The law requires eligible Massachusetts employers to provide emergency paid sick leave to employees who cannot work for reasons related to COVID-19. On September 29, 2021, Governor Baker approved an extension of the law and increased its funding.

The law was to remain in effect until April 1, 2022, or until the $100 million program funds are exhausted, whichever comes first.

The law requires an employer to provide an employee with up to 40 hours of paid leave (a maximum benefit of $850 per week, reimbursable to the employer from the Commonwealth COVID-19 Emergency Paid Sick Leave Fund ) where the employee:

  • must “isolate themselves and take care of [himself or herself] due to the employee’s diagnosis of COVID-19”;

  • must “care for a family member who is self-isolating due to a diagnosis of COVID-19”;

  • must seek “medical diagnosis, care or treatment for symptoms of COVID-19”;

  • must “take care of a family member” by seeking “medical diagnosis, care, or treatment for symptoms of COVID-19”;

  • is unable to telecommute due to a diagnosis of COVID-19 “and the symptoms inhibit the employee’s ability to telecommute”;

  • uses the time to get vaccinated against COVID-19 or recover from an illness related to the vaccination against COVID-19; Where

  • is the subject of a quarantine order or similar determination, or such order or determination applies to the employee’s family member, due to exposure to or symptoms of COVID- 19, “regardless of whether” the employee or “the employee’s family member has been diagnosed with COVID -19.

Key updates and developments

The law will expire on April 1, 2022 or the exhaustion of the $100 million funds. On February 23, 2022, the Commonwealth issued a notice that funding for the act would likely run out before April 1, 2022. Early termination of the act requires 15 days’ notice, and the Commonwealth said employers should s expect such notice soon.

Even if there is an early termination of the act, there may still be an opportunity for employers to complete their reimbursement claim submissions. The Executive Office of Administration and Finance will establish an expiration period after the program to allow employers to complete their applications.

© 2022, Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, PC, All rights reserved.National Law Review, Volume XII, Number 59