Last week, President Biden laid out his new plan to ensure higher rates of vaccination against COVID-19. Of great interest to larger, private employers is a mandate that large businesses (those with over 100 workers) require that their employees are either 1) vaccinated against COVID-19 or 2) tested weekly for the virus. In addition, these employers are required to give employees who choose to receive the vaccine paid time off to receive the vaccine
On Friday, Governor Baker signed legislation to enact COVID-19 emergency paid sick leave for all Massachusetts employers. Under the new law, employers must provide up to 40 hours of paid sick leave for all employees from now through September 30, 2021. Paid leave can be capped at $850 in paid leave (including benefits) per employee, and the Commonwealth will reimburse employers for this sick leave.
Amount of Leave
Employers must provide up to 40 hours of COVID-19
On Monday, May 17, Governor Baker announced that Massachusetts is lifting most COVID restrictions, including capacity restrictions and the mask mandate in most indoor settings, on May 29. This includes the sector-specific protocols under which Massachusetts businesses have been operating since the reopening began last May.
Governor Baker made it clear that private businesses are free to adopt their own COVID safety protocols if they choose, but they will not be required to do so.
This spring, we have seen both federal and state legislation expanding COVID-related leave laws. In this newsletter, we highlight some of the most important changes.
ARPA EXTENDS COVID EMERGENCY PAID SICK & FAMILY LEAVE
The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 extended FFCRA tax credits for employers with fewer than 500 employees who voluntarily provide COVID-related sick leave or family leave. The tax credits were set to expire on March 31, 2021 and will now
Last Tuesday, Governor Baker announced that Massachusetts would be rolling back its reopening effective Sunday, December 13. For most businesses, the changes are relatively minor. These changes include:
- Reduced capacity limits for most businesses, including offices, from 50% to 40%
- Office workers must wear masks at all times, unless they are in their own workspace and alone
- Workplaces should close communal spaces such as breakrooms, kitchens, and conference rooms to the extent possible.
While COVID concerns have dominated the workplace for the past year, we wanted to remind our clients that employees can start taking certain leaves under Massachusetts Paid Family and Medical Leave (“PFML”) effective January 1, 2021.
For an overview of the law and its requirements, please see our earlier newsletters:
We will be offering a free webinar for our clients on Tuesday, November 10 at 1 PM to review PFML’s requirements and answer any questions
Effective September 30, 2020, New York joined the growing number of states with a state-wide paid sick leave law. Employees will begin accruing sick leave on September 30th, but will not be able to use any sick leave until January 1, 2021.
Employers are required to allow all employees to accrue sick leave in New York at a minimum rate of 1 hour for every 30 hours worked. Employers may elect to front
As the COVID-19 landscape continues to evolve, government agencies have been releasing additional guidance on how employers should handle COVID-19 concerns in the workplace. This newsletter highlights significant recent developments that you may have missed.
OSHA Guidance on Reopening
OSHA has issued additional guidance for employers on safe reopening, available here. Employers should continue to follow OSHA and state guidance on safe reopening, including extending telework where possible, emphasizing sanitation and hygiene, maintaining social distance in
Although states are at very different places with COVID-19 outbreaks, many states plan to begin lifting shutdown and stay-at-home orders in the next few weeks. Even for states that will remain shut down for significantly longer, businesses should begin to think about what returning to work will look like and how to keep employees safe while we continue to live with COVID-19 in our communities.
OSHA has provided initial guidance on what workplaces should look like
We are now three weeks out from the passage of the CARES Act, which was intended to provide relief to small businesses and individuals affected by the COVID-related shutdowns. As the dust settles, this newsletter provides a status update on the various programs created by the CARES Act and the Families First Coronavirus Relief Act (“FFCRA”).
Payroll Protection Program (“PPP”) Loans
PPP loans, created by the CARES Act, were intended to provide partially-forgivable loans to small businesses