Below are helpful resources for Boston workers who have been affected by the impacts of the COVID-19 crisis. This page will be routinely updated as more information becomes available.

Please note: These resources below are NOT provided by our office and we are not authorized to field inquiries about them. This list is only intended to point workers to useful information.

Unemployment Benefits

Please visit the state’s Department of Unemployment Assistance for the latest updates on applying for unemployment benefits. (Multilingual information available here.) The fastest way is to apply online, but if you need assistance, you can also call 617-626-6800 or 877-626-6800 (Spanish and Portuguese assistance available). If you find the process confusing, these step-by-step instructions show how to apply for unemployment benefits. Additionally, the Department is holding virtual town hall meetings to explain how to file an unemployment claim. Register here for a virtual town hall meeting.

As part of the new federal CARES Act, self-employed workers, contractors, and those with limited work history are now eligible for federal unemployment benefits. These workers can apply for benefits on the state Department of Unemployment Assistance website.

Employment Options

The MassHire Boston Career Center and MassHire Downtown Boston Career Center provide employment services to job-seekers. They have created a list of employers who are currently hiring.

Workplace Safety

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts is requiring specific safety standards in the workplace to address public health concerns around COVID-19. If your employer is not following these rules, you can report unsafe working conditions to the Attorney General’s Office using this online reporting form or by calling the office’s Fair Labor hotline at 617-727-3465.

The Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational Safety & Health (MassCOSH) has also compiled workplace safety and advocacy recommendations for particular occupations (e.g. grocery/retail workers, construction workers, childcare providers, etc.).

Food

Most households with low or no income are eligible for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). You can apply for SNAP benefits online at DTAConnect.com or by calling Project Bread’s FoodSource Hotline at (800)645-8333 or the Greater Boston Food Bank (617)427-5200. Learn more about SNAP benefits.

Food for seniors, adults, children and teens is available at grab-and-go locations throughout the City of Boston. Find a meal site near you.

If you need food right away, call the Project Bread FoodSource Hotline at (800) 645-8333.

Housing

The City of Boston’s affordable housing website can connect you with subsidized and income-restricted housing or housing voucher programs. You can also find emergency housing shelters in Boston.

Legal Information

Sick Leave

A new nation-wide law called the Family First Coronavirus Response Act gives many employees new sick leave rights during the COVID-19 crisis. Generally speaking, if you work for a company with fewer than 500 employees, you may have at least two weeks of sick leave for COVID-related reasons from April 1 – Dec. 31, 2020. (This is in addition to any sick leave you receive under Massachusetts law.) COVID-related reasons to take this new paid sick leave include:

  • A government-mandated quarantine or isolation order
  • A recommendation from a healthcare provider to self-quarantine
  • Possible COVID-19 symptoms while awaiting a diagnosis
  • Need to care for a quarantined individual
  • Need to care for a child whose school or care facility is closed due to COVID-19

The amount of money you earn for paid sick leave will depend on the specific reason you must take the leave and the number of hours you typically work. Additionally, some employees will be eligible for up to 12 weeks of paid sick leave depending on their reason for sick leave.

See the U.S. Department of Labor website for complete information about your paid leave rights, including other kinds of eligible employees, additional COVID-19 reasons for sick leave, and options for earning extended sick leave. The website also includes a thorough list of frequently asked questions and answers about the new law.

Other Information

This list of frequently asked questions about employee rights covers issues regarding paychecks, sick leave, on-the-job safety, and employers’ stay-at-home requests.

If you need help with a legal matter, contact Greater Boston Legal Services.

Finances

The Mayor’s Office of Financial Empowerment has a list of financial resources covering cash assistance, student loans, banking, debt collection, small business support, and scam protection.

Tech Access

Many of Boston’s internet service providers have agreed to maintain services to households who cannot pay because of the COVID-19 crisis. Learn more here.

General Help

Local communities are creating lists of resources offered by and for their residents, including child care, educational resources, and food pick-ups. Boston COVID-19 Community Care identifies resources throughout the Boston area. The Neighborhood Aid Network has neighborhood lists for East Boston, Dorchester, Jamaica Plain & Roxbury, and Roslindale.

For the latest coronavirus updates in the City of Boston, visit boston.gov/coronavirus. Or text BOSCOVID to 99411 to receive daily updates.

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