Charlie Baker Supports COVID Leave, Supports Unemployment System

Governor Charlie Baker has backed $ 7 billion in loans to stabilize the unemployment insurance system, implemented a paid sick leave program for COVID-19 emergencies, and reduced the amount of premium increases to which employers are facing to finance the unemployment benefit system.

The governor also dismissed sections of the bill dealing with all of the above with amendments.

The bill contains language already approved at the federal level to exclude $ 10,200 in unemployment benefits received by some low-income people in 2020 and 2021 from state taxes, a change that the Revenue Department will have to grapple with. for people who have already filed returns for 2020.

The new law also ensures that for tax purposes, paycheck protection program loans and economic disaster loan advances are excluded from gross income, regardless of how businesses are organized. The programs were put in place to help businesses run and retain their employees during the pandemic.

Under the new law, employees are entitled to a maximum of five days of paid leave under a program which Baker says is similar to a federal COVID-19 paid leave program and applies to ” employees who are sick, isolated or quarantined due to COVID, or are vaccinated or care for family members in the same circumstances.

“This will ensure that employees and their families have the necessary protections against the spread of COVID-19 and this is a goal I support,” Baker wrote in a letter to the House and Senate.

In his amendment, Baker called on lawmakers to strike and replace five clauses in the bill dealing with its sick leave provisions, saying his amendments “will simplify implementation for employers and provide greater security for workers. employees “.

In addition to annual premium increases, the bill includes an unemployment insurance surtax that businesses will have to pay to help repay the interest on federal loans that the state needed to maintain the solvency of its business fund. unemployment benefits in the face of an increase in claims last year.

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