Effective immediately, Massachusetts employers must furnish up to 40 hours of COVID-19 emergency paid sick leave (“COVID Leave”) to their employees, to be made available either through September 30, 2021, or until the exhaustion of $75,000,000 in program funds – whichever is earlier. The full text of H.3702 is available here, and preliminary guidance for employers issued by the Commonwealth is available here.
Employees must be permitted to use the leave for the following COVID-19-related reasons:
Employers with less than 500 employees may find this framework familiar. It is very similar to the emergency paid sick leave required by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), which passed on March 18, 2020. The mandatory emergency paid sick leave required by the FFCRA expired on December 31, 2020, though employers may still provide such leave on a voluntary basis and receive a payroll tax credit through September 30, 2021.
The new Massachusetts law diverges from the FFCRA in several important ways:
Other important takeaways about the COVID Leave include the following:
Massachusetts employers should stay tuned for additional guidance and information on this program in the coming weeks.