CLIENT ALERT – Massachusetts Paid Family Medical Leave Act

May, 2019

The Massachusetts Paid Family Medical Leave Act (“PFML”), M.G.L. c. 175M, enacted on June 28, 2018, becomes effective on July 1, 2019. However, there are certain notice requirements businesses that that must be complied with prior to July 1, 2019.

Overview

The PFML establishes a system for paid family leave of up to 12 weeks to care for a family member, and up to 20 weeks for an employee’s own serious health condition. The total maximum and individual can take for either family leave or medical leave is capped at 26 weeks per calendar year. Most PFML benefits for covered individuals will be available as of January 1, 2021 and all benefits will be available as of July 1, 2021.

Individuals who qualify for this coverage may take paid family leave for a variety of reasons: to care for a family member who has a serious health condition, to bond with the employee’s child during the first 12 months after the child’s birth or the first 12 months after the placement of the child with the employee for adoption or foster care, for a family member who is a covered service member with a serious injury or illness incurred or aggravated in the line of duty. The term “family member” refers to the covered individual’s spouse, children, and parents, as well as domestic partner, grandchildren, grandparents, siblings, and parents of a spouse or domestic partner. In addition, covered individuals may opt to take paid medical leave for their own personal health conditions.

Coverage for PFML will be made from the Family and Employment Security Trust Fund which will be funded by a payroll tax on employers at an initial contribution rate of 0.63 percent of the Employee’s wages. The deductions for tax to fund the Family and Employment Security Trust Fund will begin on July 1, 2019.

Workforce Notification

Under the PFML employers and other business entities (entities employing independent contractors) are required to provide their employees and/or independent contractors with notice of PFML benefits, contribution rates and other requirements under the PFML. The deadline to provide this required notice was recently extended from May 31, 2019 to June 30, 2019. The Massachusetts Department of Family Medical Leave (“DFML”) has issued a form notice for both employee and independent contractors which are attached and it is also provided in several languages which can be accessed by the following link. PFML Notice
The PFML notice, which may be provided electronically, must also provide the opportunity for employees (full-time, part-time, or seasonal) or 1099 independent contractor individuals to acknowledge receipt or decline to acknowledge receipt of the information. The notice must be distributed in the primary language of the employee or independent contractor. New employees shall be provided the within 30 days of their hire and independent contractors shall be provided when an agreement is entered into with the business and the contractor.
In the event that an employee or self-employed individual fails to acknowledge receipt, an employer or covered business entity will have fulfilled its notice obligation if it can establish that it provided to each member of its current workforce notice and the opportunity to acknowledge or decline to acknowledge receipt.

Workplace Notice Requirements

In addition to the individual notices, on or before July 1, 2019 employers must post a notice in a
conspicuous place also providing employees with notice of the PFML benefits. Posters must be made available in English and each language which is the primary language of 5 or more individuals in your workforce if such translations are made available from DFML. The DFML Poster is attached hereto and may also be accessed by the following link. PFML Workplace Poster.

Contribution Collections

Commencing July 1, 2019, employers must commence collection of the 0.63% PFML contribution tax. If the business employs more than fifty percent (50%) of its workforce as independent contractors then it is a covered entity and, like an employer, it too must collect and remit contributions for its workforce. If the workforce is less than fifty percent (50%) individuals employed independent contractors, it should provide the option to its independent contractors to choose to become covered individuals. The collected funds are due no later than October 31, 2019. Employers should contact their payroll providers or confirm they are set up to manage the payroll withholding. The contribution rate split between employers and employees varies on the size of employers with employers with less than 25 employees being exempt from the employer portion of the medical leave share. The DFML has provided charts to assist employers and business entities with contribution amounts which may be access here. PFML Contribution Charts. Employers with less than 25 employee will need to determine if they desire to pick up a portion of the contribution or have the employee be responsible for the cost of the
medical leave share.

Exemption for Approved Plans

The PFML provides that employers with private plans with paid leave benefits that are equal to or more generous than those provided under the PFML program may apply for and seek an exemption from making family or medical leave contributions to the DFML. The deadline for applying for an exemption is September 20, 2019. In order to qualify for an exemption approved plan must meet all the minimum requirements established by the DFML and not cost an employee any more than they would be required to contribute to the state plan under the PFML.

If you have any questions or require any assistance regarding the Massachusetts Paid Family Medical Leave Act, please feel free to contact us.

This publication, which may be considered advertising under the ethical rules of certain jurisdictions, should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion on any specific facts or circumstances by Tamkin & Hochberg, LLP and its attorneys. This newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and you should consult an attorney concerning any specific legal questions you may have.