BOSTON –The Raise Up Massachusetts coalition of community groups, faith-based organizations, and labor unions, which has advocated for emergency paid sick time throughout the pandemic, today issued the following statement in response to Governor Baker’s signing of legislation to extend the Commonwealth’s emergency paid sick time protections past their September 30 expiration date, to March 31, 2022.
“Emergency paid sick time is a vital public health tool in the battle against COVID-19, and we are pleased that the Legislature and Governor Baker have extended the state’s COVID-19 paid sick time program through March 2021. We worked hard to win this important public health benefit for all workers and are glad that it is being extended.
“With this extension, workers who may be infected with the contagious Delta variant will be able to stay home and avoid infecting others. As we work to get more people vaccinated and begin delivering booster shots to millions of already-vaccinated individuals, frontline workers will have the paid time off they need to recover from any side effects of the vaccine, or to bring their children to get vaccinated. And a new public awareness campaign will help ensure that every worker in Massachusetts knows they have the right to take up to five days of paid leave if they need it to deal with COVID-related sickness, quarantine, caregiving, or vaccination, and to ensure that businesses know that state reimbursement is available to them.”
Massachusetts’ COVID-19 emergency paid sick time legislation requires all Massachusetts employers to provide 40 hours of emergency paid sick time to a full-time worker, and an equivalent amount for part-time workers. The sick time can be used for COVID-related sickness, quarantine, caregiving, and vaccination, and it is job-protected, meaning that workers cannot be fired or otherwise penalized for using it.
The costs to employers are covered in one of two ways. Businesses with fewer than 500 employees, as well as government entities, are eligible to receive a tax credit from the federal government to cover the cost, as part of the American Rescue Plan Act signed by President Biden. The state legislation provides state reimbursement to businesses with over 500 employees, and creates a $75 million state fund for reimbursement.
Raise Up Massachusetts is a coalition of community groups, faith-based organizations, and labor unions committed to building an economy that invests in families, gives everyone the opportunity to succeed, and creates broadly shared prosperity. Since our coalition came together in 2013, we have nearly doubled wages for hundreds of thousands of working people by winning two increases in the state’s minimum wage, and we’ve won best-in-the-nation earned sick time and paid family and medical leave benefits for workers and their families, including COVID-19 emergency paid sick time. We’re leading the campaign for the Fair Share Amendment to invest in transportation and public education, and start to build an economy that works for all of us, not just those at the top. Learn more at raiseupma.org.