COVID-19 Resources: Workers' Rights

Basic Rights

Families First Coronavirus Response Act

This emergency measure from the federal government expands sick to leave to more workers, striving to ensure that those who are sick can stay home. Emergency paid sick leave also covers those who need to stay home to care for a sick child or family member, as well as contract workers (commonly referred to as gig economy workers) who are eligible for a tax credit in case they need to take emergency sick leave.

For more information, read this fact sheet.

Employee Rights FAQ

Essential Workers Rights

Sick Time

Workers in Massachusetts can earn and use up to 40 hours of job protected sick time each year.
For every 30 hours worked, workers must earn at least 1 hour of earned sick time.

When can sick time be used?

  • If they are ill, injured or have a routine medical appointment.
  • To help their child, spouse, parent, or spouse’s parent, with an illness, injury, or a routine medical appointment.
  • To cases of domestic violence involving themselves or their children.

Paid Sick Time:

  • If employers have 11 or more employees they must provide paid sick time.
  • If they have fewer than 11 employees they must provide earned sick time but it can be unpaid.

Do employees need to provide notice for sick time use?

  • Employers may require that employees tell them before they use sick time, except in emergencies.
  • Employers can only ask for proof in specific circumstances:
  • Employers can only ask for a doctor’s note when an employee misses more than 3 consecutive days.
  • Employers cannot ask for information about the illness or details about domestic violence.

Appropriate Times to use Earned Sick Time:


Situation Can I use Earned Sick Time

Public health officials or healthcare providers require an employee or family member to quarantine.



Public health officials or healthcare providers recommend an employee or family member quarantines and employee follows the recommendation.



An employee misses work because their child’s school is closed due to an order from a state or local authority because of a COVID-19 related matter/

While employers are encouraged to allow the use of earned sick time, accrued vacation or other paid time off, employers are not required to allow such things.


Other Information

Employees of business temporarily shut down due to Covid:

  • If a business shuts down for the entire week an employee does not have to be paid provided they have not performed ANY work during the week.
  • If a business shuts down for part of the week employees full pay is required, however an employer may require an employee to use vacation or other paid time off for the part of the week the business is closed.