[co-author: Joyce Dos Santos]
On May 28, Gov. Charlie Baker (R) signed Bill H.3702 into law, legislation that provides employees with emergency paid sick leave, capped at 40 hours a week or $850, for certain reasons related to COVID-19. This legislation similarly creates a $75 million COVID-19 Emergency Paid Sick Leave Fund to reimburse eligible employers for providing employees with emergency sick leave. Employees are entitled to benefits starting this Monday, June 7, and continuing through September 30, or until the state’s MA EPSL fund is exhausted, whichever occurs first.
Employees are entitled to emergency paid sick leave in addition to all other job protected leave that the employer is required to provide under the Massachusetts Earned Sick Time Law, the employer’s existing policies or programs, collective bargaining agreements, or federal law.
The following summary comes from the language of the statute, with minor editing for clarity and format.
What is a qualified reason?
Under the newly enacted law, all Massachusetts employers, regardless of size, are obligated to provide up to 40 hours of emergency paid sick leave to Massachusetts-based employees who are unable to work for any of the following reasons:
How much paid sick leave time must be made available?
Handling requests for leave
Employers who want to receive reimbursements for the costs of providing employees with leave must require their employees to submit requests for COVID-19 emergency paid sick leave in writing. All requests must include the following:
For leave requests based on a quarantine order or self-quarantine advice, the statement from the employee must also include (1) the name of the governmental entity ordering quarantine or the name of the health care provider advising self-quarantine; and (2) if the person subject to quarantine or advised to self-quarantine is not the employee, that person’s name and relation to the employee.
Employers wishing to be reimbursed should also collect the following information from employees:
Any health information collected must be treated as confidential medical records and kept separate from the employee’s personnel file.
What else do employers need to know?
Guidance has been issued, but it conflicts in some respects with the statute, which would take precedence. Additional (and, we hope, revised) guidance will be issued soon, including the model notice described above, a standard form for employee leave requests, and information for employers about applying for reimbursement.
Joyce Dos Santos has been a paralegal with Constangy since 2015. She recently graduated from Suffolk University School of Law, and will be admitted to practice next week. She will then become an associate attorney in Constangy's Boston Office.