Baker Signs COVID paid leave program extension

Boston Statehouse

STATE HOUSE, BOSTON (01/27/2021) – Gov. Charlie Baker unveiled his $45.6 billion fiscal 2022 budget proposal at a press conference in the Massachusetts State House and also spoke to reporters about availability and distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine. (Sam Doran/State House News Service)

BOSTON (SHNS) – A day before the state’s COVID-19 emergency paid sick leave program was set to expire, Gov. Charlie Baker on Wednesday approved an extension of the program until April 1. The Legislature sent the extension bill (H 4127) to Baker’s desk on Monday.

The program was first authorized under a law passed in May with the intention of giving workers time to quarantine, recover, get vaccinated, or help a family member dealing with the coronavirus. It was set to expire Sept. 30. The May law created a new $75 million emergency COVID-19 sick leave program offering workers up to one week of paid leave, capped at $850. Senate President Karen Spilka and House Speaker Ronald Mariano said this week that an extension would “help Massachusetts continue its progress towards full recovery.” Spilka said Monday that just over $2 million had been used of the $75 million pool.

The new law reallocates up to $500,000 from the emergency leave fund for a public awareness campaign to promote awareness of the program, and directs the Executive Office of Administration and Finance to develop the campaign. Baker signed the bill Wednesday afternoon, according to his office, and his action was confirmed by the secretary of state’s office, which receives laws after they have been signed by the governor.

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