By Bob Katzen
Raise Up Massachusetts is the group leading the charge for legislation that would provide 10 additional workdays (80 hours) of job-protected paid sick time for immediate use during the COVID-19 pandemic. The time would be available to employees not covered by paid the sick time provided by the federal government through the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.
Workers who take this sick time would be paid by their employers at their regular rate of pay, up to a maximum of $850 per week. Employers would then be reimbursed by the state. The sick time is available for a worker to care for themselves or a family member if they are diagnosed with COVID-19, experiencing its symptoms and awaiting a diagnosis, quarantined or self-quarantined or reasonably believes their health is at risk.
“Anyone who feels sick or may have been exposed to COVID-19 should be able to stay home and avoid exposing others to the virus,” said Deb Fastino, executive director of the Coalition for Social Justice and a co-chair of Raise Up Massachusetts. “But many workers can’t miss work to care for themselves or their family because they’d lose the pay they need to make ends meet. Massachusetts needs to pass Emergency Paid Sick Time legislation to fill the gaps in the federal response and ensure that all workers can take paid sick time during this crisis.”
“In hospitals, grocery stores, and nursing homes, essential workers are doing heroic work fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, but many of our essential workers lack the ability to stay home with pay if they are sick,” said Rep. Paul Donato (D-Medford) a co-sponsor of the proposal. “We need to do everything we can to protect Massachusetts workers on the front lines of the pandemic, including passing this legislation to fill in the gaps in the federal response. No worker should feel the need to come to work sick and risk infecting others.”