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LEGISLATION ENACTED REQUIRING EMPLOYERS TO PROVIDE EMERGENCY PAID SICK TIME IN MASSACHUSETTS FOR COVID-19 RELATED ABSENCES

On Behalf of | Jun 2, 2021 | Firm News, MA Employee Benefit Law |

Last week H.3702 — an Act Providing for Massachusetts COVID-19 Emergency Paid Sick Leave (the Act) – was passed by the MA Legislature and signed by Governor Baker.

  • Effective Friday, May 28, 2021 and until the earlier of September 30, 2021, or the exhaustion of $75 million in program funds, the Act requires employers to make paid sick leave time available to Massachusetts employees for certain reasons related to COVID-19, as described later below.
  • The Act establishes the COVID-19 Emergency Paid Sick Leave Fund (Fund) and directs the transfer of $75 million from the state’s general fund to the Fund to reimburse employers providing leave under the Act.
  • MA will reimburse employers from the Fund for the cost incurred by employers to provide COVID-19 Emergency Paid Sick Leave (EPSL) to their employees.
    • No double dipping by employers is permitted. Thus, any qualified sick leave wages paid by an employer that are eligible for the federal tax credit under the FFCRA, or subsequent extensions, including the federal CAA, 2021 and ARPA 21 are NOT eligible for reimbursement from the Fund.
  • In general, employers may not require employees to use other types of available paid leave before they use EPSL. Similarly, employers may not require employees to find a replacement worker for the time missed while using EPSL.

The MA Department of Unemployment Assistance (DUA) released preliminary Employer Guidance last Friday (May 28, 2021). In the coming weeks MA will establish a website devoted to the EPSL program with more information, including information on how employers can apply for reimbursement, and an e-mail address will be established for questions related to the program. DUA indicated that it will not be administering this program and the DUA call center will not be able to assist with questions about this program. At present, it appears the Executive Office of Administration and Finance (ANF), or another department or agency designated by ANF, will administer reimbursements to employers.