Legislation that would grant additional paid sick leave to employees during the COVID-19 outbreak is moving on Beacon Hill after securing the approval of a key panel.

The Labor and Workforce Development Committee voted to advance a bill that would offer two work weeks of state-covered paid sick time to Massachusetts workers who do not qualify for federal emergency paid leave during the pandemic.

Under the committee version of the legislation, employees can take the COVID-related sick leave to self-isolate after contracting the virus or displaying symptoms, to recuperate from the illness, or to care for an affected family member.

Employees who work 40 hours per week would qualify for 80 hours of paid leave, while those who work fewer than 40 hours in a week could receive as much time off as they would normally work in a 14-day period.

The bill, a redraft of legislation filed by Rep. Paul Donato and Sen. Jason Lewis (H 4700 / S 2701), establishes a $55 million fund to help businesses cover the costs of the emergency sick time, and employers must keep jobs secure when employees take the leave. Benefits would reach up to $850 per week.

A spokesperson for Sen. Patricia Jehlen, the committee's co-chair, said all members voted in support of advancing the bill except Sen. John Keenan, who did not take a stance.

"We should not ask workers to choose between being able to afford rent or put food on the table and public health or their own health," Jehlen said in a statement. "This bill will allow people to stay home with sick leave benefits if they have COVID, so they can focus on getting better not how they will make up lost wages."

~ Chris Lisinski/SHNS

Recommended for you