On Thursday, June 13, 2019, the Massachusetts Legislature enacted legislation making several changes to the commonwealth’s Paid Family and Medical Leave (PFML) program. Of most immediate concern to employers, the legislation implemented a three-month delay to the start of deductions from employees’ pay, to the extent that an employer elects to have employees share in the program costs. This extends the commencement date for payroll deductions from July 1 to October 1, 2019. The deadline for employers to remit employee and employer contributions for the initial calendar quarter (October 1 to December 31, 2019) is January 31, 2020.
The legislation also adopted changes to the PFML program to clarify issues concerning subjects such as intermittent leave and the definition of “serious medical condition.”
Under a “Notice to Massachusetts Employers” (the Notice to Employers) issued by the Department of Paid Family and Medical Leave (the Department) on June 14, 2019, the Department extended from June 30 to September 30, 2019, the deadline to notify all covered individuals of their rights and obligations under the PFML law. In the Notice to Employers, the Department indicated that “in the coming days” it will publish updated PFML notices for employers to provide to their workforce on the Department website at mass.gov/pfml. The Department also extended the deadline for employers to file for a private plan exemption for first-quarter PFML contributions from September 20 to December 20, 2019.
The Department has adjusted the total contribution rate from 0.63% to 0.75% of employee qualifying earnings to offset the shorter period for collections that will result from the three-month delay to the start of the collection of contributions.
The dates on which employees can begin taking PFML leave remain unchanged. Those dates are January 1, 2021, with respect to medical leave, child bonding leave and leave related to a family member who is a covered servicemember, and July 1, 2021, with respect to leave to care for a family member with a serious health condition.
On June 18, 2019, the Department issued its final PFML regulations. The Goodwin Employment practice will issue a subsequent alert regarding the final regulations.
Please consult a member of Goodwin’s Employment practice with any questions regarding the PFML law, including relating to the recent legislation amending the PFML law and the Department’s June 14 Notice to Massachusetts Employers.
Jennifer Merrigan FayPartner
Bradford J. SmithPartner
Robert M. HalePartnerChair, Employment