Massachusetts Paid Family and Medical Leave Act: Updated

By Martha J. Zackin and Hayley Cotter

Following weeks of piecemeal changes and updates, the Department of Family and Medical Leave (“DFML”) has now issued the final regulations (effective July 1, 2019).  Click here for a revised Bello / Welsh alert, which has been updated to be consistent with both the final regulations and the bill passed last week. The most significant changes are as follows:

  • The payroll tax deduction now begins on October 1, 2019.  Employers will be responsible for remitting employee and (if applicable) employer contributions for the first quarter (October 1 through December 31) by January 31, 2020.
  • The contribution rate has been adjusted from 0.63% to 0.75%. An employer may choose to deduct differing percentages from different groups of covered individuals, but may not deduct more than the maximum percentages authorized.
  • The MA PFML Poster created by the DFML must be posted by July 1, 2019. A copy of the updated poster is attached here, and translations will be available on the DFML’s website.
  • The timeline for distributing the MA PFML Written Notices has been extended until September 30, 2019. Model notices available on the DFML’s website.  As previously mentioned, you should obtain from each employee (and eligible 1099-MISC contractor) a written statement acknowledging receipt of the notice, or a statement indicating refusal to acknowledge the notice.

Note, if you had already provided notice to your workforce, you must distribute a rate update notice explaining the new dates and contribution rates. Sample rate update notices are also available on the DFML’s website. Although you do not need to obtain written acknowledgement of this supplemental notice, you must keep a record of distribution.

  • Additional guidance has been provided about the private plan exemption:
    • The application deadline has been extended until December 20, 2019. Applications received after December 20, 2019 will be accepted on a rolling basis, and will be effective no earlier than the quarter immediately following the date of approval. Companies may apply for an exemption only once per quarter.
    • Employers with approved private plans must retain all related records (including those related to claims for benefits) for three years.
    • Benefits under an approved private plan must be maintained for all covered individuals until the effective date of termination or non-renewal of the plan. An employer that fails to maintain or renew a private plan approved prior to January 1, 2021 may be responsible for retroactive contributions to the Trust Fund.
  • The final regulations clarify that job restoration is not required following leave if the employee was hired for a specific term or only to perform work on a discrete project, if the term or project is over and the employer would not otherwise have continued to employ the employee.

If you have any questions about these updates, or about any other aspects of the PFML, please do not hesitate to reach out.