Massachusetts readies for paid family and medical leave 

Connecticut Enacts Paid Family and Medical Leave
January 13, 2020

Beginning in 2021, the Massachusetts paid family and medical leave (PFML) law will give employees up to 12 weeks of protected leave with partial wage replacement to bond with a new child, care for a family member with a serious health condition or handle a military exigency. The law will also let employees take up to 20 weeks to address their own serious health conditions and up to 26 weeks to care for a covered servicemember. A cap will limit any employee’s total PFML to 26 weeks in a 52-week period. Employee and any required employer contributions began Oct. 1, 2019.

The Massachusetts Department of Family and Medical Leave (DFML) will administer PFML benefits provided through the state program. However, employers can opt out of participation in the state program by obtaining approval for a private plan that is either self-insured or purchased from an approved insurer. Final PFML regulations and guidance posted on the DFML website and the Department of Revenue website supply information on the law’s implementation.

Download the 15-page print-friendly PDF for a detailed GRIST analyzing the law and regulations on these issues:

  • Covered employees and employers, including how to determine an employer’s Massachusetts workforce size
  • Employer and employee contribution requirements
  • Employer reporting and disclosure obligations
  • Purpose and duration of leave
  • Information on benefits, wage replacement and job protections
  • Coordination with other available leave
  • Requirements and processes for a private plan to obtain approval

In preparing for PFML compliance, Massachusetts employers may want to consider these steps, unless already taken:

  • Register with MassTaxConnect, unless an account is already set up.
  • Display the PFML poster.
  • Determine workforce size, and calculate employer and employee financial responsibilities.
  • Decide whether to use the public program, a private plan or a combination.
  • If using a private plan, secure a bond or declaration of insurance, and apply for exemption.
  • Notify covered employees (current and new) in writing about the PFML law and benefits.
  • If participating in the state program, make payroll withholdings based on contribution rates, and prepare to remit quarterly to the state (first filings due by Jan. 31, 2020).
  • Determine how to integrate and coordinate PFML with other employer-provided benefit programs.
  • Evaluate and address equity issues for employees in other states.
  • Watch for additional details from the DFML regarding the claim process.
  • Look for additional IRS guidance on tax implications of PFML contributions and benefits.
  • Before 2021, revise employee handbooks describing benefits, leave rights and coordination policies.
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