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Massachusetts Extends COVID-19 Paid Leave Obligation

Massachusetts Extends COVID-19 Paid Leave Obligation

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker just signed legislation extending the statewide mandate for employers to provide emergency paid leave related to COVID-19. These COVID-19 paid leave obligations will now continue until April 1, 2022. What do Bay State employers need to know about this latest change in an already confusing sea of voluntary and mandatory leave mandates?What’s Changed?As avid readers of our Insights may recall, we provided a comprehensive assessment of Temporary Emergency COVID-19 Paid Sick Leave statute when it was enacted by the legislature in May 2021. The good news for you is that the legislature left the existing law largely intact.However, in addition to extending the mandate from Sept. 30, 2021 to April 1, 2022, the legislature made one change to the qualifying reasons for leave. Employees will now be eligible to care for a family member who “is obtaining immunization related to COVID-19 or is recovering from an injury, disability, illness or condition related to such immunization.” This change aligns the self-care and family-care provisions of the law and further bolsters the Commonwealth’s commitment to encouraging vaccinations.It does not appear, however, that employees who have used their 40-hour entitlement will be entitled to any additional leave under the statute. According to a Frequently Asked Questions page maintained by the Executive Office of Administration and Finance, while the law does not address how many times an employee can take leave, there is a cap with respect to total hours (40).A Brief RefresherAs a reminder, all public and private employers in Massachusetts (other than the U.S. government) are required to provide up to 40 additional hours of paid leave to employees who are unable to work due to COVID-19. The amount of paid leave an employee is entitled to depends on the number of hours they work in a given week:Those regularly working 40 or more hours per week will receive 40 hours of COVID-19 paid leave.Employees regularly working fewer than 40 hours per week will receive COVID-19 paid leave that is equal to the number of hours that the employee works on average over a 14-day period.Employees working varying hours from week to week will receive COVID-19 paid leave equivalent to the average number of hours they worked each week over the six-month period immediately preceding the date on which they take the COVID-19 paid leave. If the employee did not work a six-month period prior to taking leave, then they will receive leave based on their reasonable expectation of the average number of hours per week that they would normally be scheduled to work.What Can Employees Use the Leave For?Employees may use COVID-19 paid leave for the following qualifying reasons:Self-isolating and caring for oneself because of the employee’s COVID-19 diagnosis.Seeking or obtaining a medical diagnosis, care or treatment for COVID-19 symptoms.Obtaining immunization related to COVID-19 or recovering from an injury, disability, illness or condition related to such immunization.Caring for a family member who is self-isolating due to a COVID-19 diagnosis.Caring for a family member who needs medical diagnosis, care, or treatment for …

Today’s News & Commentary—September 2, 2021

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Today’s News & Commentary—September 2, 2021

Yesterday, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healy announced that rideshare companies could move forward with their proposed state ballot measure to exempt their drivers from employment law protections.  The proposal, modeled closely on California’s Proposition 22, was one of 17 out of 30 proposed ballot initiatives certified by the Attorney General as having met baseline state […]

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‘I don’t like being treated like crap’: gig workers aim to retool a system they say is rigged

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‘I don’t like being treated like crap’: gig workers aim to retool a system they say is rigged Uber, Lyft and other companies fighting Massachusetts lawsuit that would grant workers status as employees Michael Sainato — Fri 27 Aug 2021 05.00 EDT  — Felipe Martinez began working full-time as an Uber driver in the Boston, […]

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Today’s News & Commentary — August 5, 2021

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Today’s News & Commentary — August 5, 2021

Ongoing revelations surrounding New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s serial sexual misconduct while in office have lost the governor the support of organized labor.  Since Tuesday, a host of labor groups—including the Hotel Trades Council, Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 32BJ, New York State United Teachers (NYSUT), the Retail, Warehouse, and Department Store Union (RWDSU), […]

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