e-Alerts

e-Alert – Massachusetts Publishes Final PFML Regulations and Updated Employee Notices

Background

The final Massachusetts Paid Family Medical Leave (MA PFML) regulations have been issued on the Department of Family and Medical Leave (DFML) website and include a few revisions. Here are noteworthy changes or additions:

Summary

  1. Intermittent leave now allows an employer to designate a minimum increment of time that can be taken as intermittent leave, provided that the minimum period does not exceed four hours. In contrast, the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) allows intermittent leave in increments of no longer than one hour.
  2. Employers may choose to deduct different percentages from different groups of covered individuals for purposes of making contributions, provided that no deductions exceed the maximum deduction allowed. In other words, deductions need not be equal across the entirety of an employer’s workforce.
  3. There are further clarifications for employers with approved private plans, as well as added penalties for employers who fail to maintain or renew approved private plans prior to January 1, 2021.
  4. The regulations further define the average weekly wage for covered self-employed individuals as a percentage of their total earnings from the two highest quarters in the previous year.
  5. Self-employed individuals who opt into the MA PFML program have been provided with additional details including the length of time they are considered a covered individual and when paid leave benefits would begin. They must be covered individuals for not less than three years and must contribute for two out of four completed quarters before receiving paid leave benefits.
  6. There are further details regarding how covered individuals can place a claim with the Department of Family and Medical Leave, including filling out state-provided forms and providing 30 days’ notice if practicable. The DFML will notify applicants within 14 days of receiving an application for benefits of approval or denial of the leave. A covered individual who needs an extension of benefits must notify the DFML by filing a request 14 days before the original approved leave expires. Employers have five business days to complete any DFML request forms relevant to claims for benefits for covered individuals. Covered individuals who request an appeal must do so within 10 calendar days of receipt of the DFML’s denial letter. Forms have not yet been released but are anticipated to be released in advance of the January 1, 2021 deadline.
  7. Certain types of employment that are excluded from unemployment law are also exempt from PFML benefits, including:

a. Services performed for a son, daughter, or spouse

b. If under 18, services performed for one’s father or mother

c. Services performed by inmates of penal institutions

d. Employment in the railroad industry

e. Services provided by real estate brokers/salespeople and insurance agents/solicitors in commission-only jobs

f. Newspaper sales and delivery by persons under 18

g. Employment by churches and certain religious organizations

h. Services of work-study students, student nurses and interns, and work trainee programs administered by nonprofit or public institutions

  Certain exempt employers listed above can opt into the MA PFML program by notifying the DFML and following its procedure to enroll.

8. Revised employer notification forms now available for employers. These forms have now been translated into twelve additional languages.

Next Steps for Employers

  • Employers who completed the notification process prior to the June 14th extension will need to issue an amendment to the form and distribute it to all employees with the modified contribution rate. The amendment does not need to be signed by the employee and can be sent electronically. This process will need to be completed each time that the rate changes. Updated forms can be accessed here.
  • Display the updated workplace poster, which you can download here.
  • Work with your current payroll provider to set up the tax calculations through payroll. If you are a Full-Service or Managed Payroll client of HR Knowledge, we will handle this for you.
  • Register for our complimentary July 31 webinar covering the key provisions of the law.
  • If you are not a client but are interested in learning more about our services, please email us.

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This content is provided with the understanding that HR Knowledge is not rendering legal advice. While every effort is made to provide current information, the law changes regularly and laws may vary depending on the state or municipality. The material is made available for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for legal advice or your professional judgment. You should review applicable laws in your jurisdiction and consult experienced counsel for legal advice. If you have any questions regarding this content, please contact HR Knowledge at 508.339.1300 or email us.

 

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