Section 9I. (a) Any employee of the commonwealth may be granted a leave of absence with pay for the purpose of serving as an American Red Cross volunteer in specialized disaster relief services in connection with any disaster at the request of the American Red Cross for such an employee’s services. The leave shall be approved at the sole discretion of the employee’s supervisor and shall be limited to a total of 15 calendar days, consecutively or nonconsecutively, per calendar year. In determining whether to grant such a leave to an employee, the employing agency may consider the needs of the American Red Cross for expertise in a particular certified area as well as the work needs of the agency. Authorized leaves of absence shall be limited to only those employees of the commonwealth who are registered as certified disaster service volunteers of the American Red Cross disaster services human resources network. Within 30 days after a request by the American Red Cross for an employee’s services, the American Red Cross shall submit written proof of that employee’s certification as a disaster service volunteer to the employing agency involved.
(b) An employee who is granted a leave of absence pursuant to this section shall be compensated by the employee’s employing agency at the employee’s regular rate of pay for those regular work hours during which the employee is absent from work, but in no event shall the employee receive overtime pay, shift differential pay, hazardous duty pay or any other form of compensation in addition to the employee’s regular pay. An employee who is granted leave pursuant to this section shall not lose any already existing insurance and health care coverage, seniority or any previously accrued vacation time, sick time, personal days, compensation time or earned overtime due to the employee’s granted leave of absence. Leave authorized under this section shall not be granted for the purpose of obtaining American Red Cross disaster relief training.
(c) The commonwealth shall not be liable for workers’ compensation claims seeking compensation for injuries that arise out of and during the course of an employee’s authorized leave of absence with the American Red Cross as a certified disaster service volunteer. Duties performed while on disaster leave shall not be construed to be work assignments by the particular state agency employing the employee on leave. The employee’s activities and volunteer functions while on a leave authorized by this section shall not be directed by the commonwealth but shall be determined and controlled solely by the American Red Cross. Volunteer functions, although similar or related to an employee’s normal job functions, are performed on behalf of and for the benefit of the American Red Cross. An employee who is on an approved leave pursuant to this section shall not be deemed to be a public employee of the commonwealth while on leave for the purposes of chapter 258.
(d) Each Massachusetts chapter of the American Red Cross shall compile an annual report detailing the number of state employees who have been granted a leave of absence pursuant to this section during the previous year and listing the total number of days of leave taken by the employees during the course of that year. This annual report shall be filed with the joint committee on public service, the house and senate committees on ways and means and the human resources division of the executive office of administration and finance no later than January 15 of each year.