NEW GUIDANCE From the Massachusetts Department of Family and Medical Leave

As we previously reported (in “NEW LAW – Paid Family and Medical Leave Coming to Massachusetts“), starting in 2021,  employees will be able to begin collecting paid family and medical leave benefits.

The Massachusetts Department of Family and Medical Leave recently published its draft regulations relating to the  Massachusetts Paid Family and Medical Leave Law.  While these proposed regulations largely mirror the existing law, they offer additional guidance on the following topics:

  • Required quarterly filings – must be submitted through the MassTaxConnect system and must include each employee’s name, social security number and wages paid as well as the employer identification number. The information reported will be the basis of the employer’s contributions, which are due within 30 days of the end of the quarter.
  • Treatment of independent contractors – for employers who use independent contractors as 50%+ of their workforce, employers are required to treat those independent contractors as employees for purposes of Massachusetts Paid Family Medical Leave.
  • Employers contributions – provides guidance on the contribution rates
  • Employee count – provides guidance on how employers will calculate the size of the workforce.
  • Employer adoption of private plan – employers are permitted to adopted a private plan to pay benefits if the plan meets the minimum requirements of the Massachusetts Paid Family Medical Leave Act
  • Benefit claim procedures – explains the process that employees will follow to collect the benefits.

It is anticipated that the Department will finalize the regulations by July 1, 2019.

In the meantime, the Department recently  released a new online guide for employers on the Massachusetts Paid Family and Medical Leave Act.  This guide is intended to clarify many of the questions that arose from the draft  regulations.  In addition, the new guide gives employers information regarding their reporting obligations under the Massachusetts Paid Family Medical Leave Act.  The guide also provides information about how employers can apply for an exemption from the Massachusetts Paid Family Medical Leave Act by establishing a compliant private plan (i.e. one that meets the Department’s minimum requirements).

Finally, the online guide reminds Massachusetts employers that they are required to notify their workforce about the Massachusetts Paid Family Medical Leave program, including its benefits and protections that apply to them. This notification includes:

  • Paid Family and Medical Leave mandatory workplace poster (which must be posted in a conspicuous location in the workplace)
  • Providing written notice of contributions, benefits, and workforce protections to W2 employees and 1099-MISC contractors
  • Collecting signed acknowledgments of receipt of such notice from W2 employees and 1099-MISC contractors

The Massachusetts Paid Family Medical Leave Act mandatory workplace poster is available on the online guide; however the mandatory notices have not yet been published.  Once available/, employers should plan to distribute the notices and collect the signatures of acknowledgment by June 1, 2019.

Remember, beginning July 1, 2019, employers must start making deductions from wages or payments for services made to your workforce in order to fund quarterly contributions to the Department, which will be due on a quarterly basis starting October 31, 2019.

It is recommended that all Massachusetts employers review the online guide to prepare for these new obligations.