With Covid vaccines for teens and adults widely available throughout the nation, and with shots for elementary school children now approved and available as well, there’s reason to be a bit more optimistic that the pandemic may be starting to wane in the U.S. But with colder weather on the way, experts still predict a winter surge of infections and hospitalizations—though not as severe as last year’s.

Under Massachusetts’s COVID-19 Emergency Paid Sick Leave law, employers must give employees up to a week of paid sick leave for certain reasons related to Covid. Employers may request reimbursement from the Commonwealth for the cost of paid leave. The program has been extended to April 1, 2022, or until the $75 million fund is depleted, whichever comes first.

In general, employers may not require their employees to use other paid sick leave benefits before using COVID-19 Emergency Paid Sick Leave, nor may they interfere with an employee’s ability to take advantage of the program—or retaliate against them for using it.

What Qualifies for Covid-related Paid Sick Leave?

Employees can request paid sick leave for the following reasons:

  • To take care of themselves or get medical treatment for a COVID-19 diagnosis;
  • To get a COVID-19 immunization or recover from its side-effects;
  • To quarantine as required by a government official, a health authority having jurisdiction, or a health care provider;
  • To take leave to care for a family member dealing with any of the situations described above. Covered family members include:
    • Spouse or domestic partner;
    • Child, parent, grandparent, or sibling;
    • Spouse or domestic partner’s parent;
    • Person who stood in loco parentis to the employee when the employee was a minor child.

How Much Paid Leave Can Employees Receive?

Those who regularly work full-time (40 or more hours a week) are entitled to 40 hours of paid sick leave. The maximum paid leave for part-time employees is based on the average number of hours they work per week.

Employers are required to pay up to $850 per employee under this program. That amount is also the maximum reimbursement per employee that employers may obtain from the COVID-19 Emergency Paid Sick Leave fund.

For more information, please visit COVID-19 Temporary Emergency Sick Leave Program.

Image: Michael Marais