Employer obligations under Massachusetts Paid Family and Medical Leave (“PFML”) start this week.  Please be sure to meet the following deadlines:

September 30 – Notices: If you have not already done so, post the mandatory notice and provide written notice to your workforce.  The Department of Paid Family and Medical Leave has standard notice forms available here: 

https://www.mass.gov/files/documents/2019/06/14/20190614_DFML%20Notice_English.pdf

https://www.mass.gov/info-details/informing-your-workforce-about-paid-family-and-medical-leave#written-notice-requirements-

We can make customized notice forms tailored to your business if you prefer – please reach out if you would like a customized notice form.  The state’s model form includes many items that are not required. 

October 1 – Start Payroll Deductions.  We know that most of our clients have been working diligently with their payroll providers to prepare for the new PFML deductions.  If you have not already done so, be sure that you are taking the necessary deductions from payroll effective October 1st.  Employers have until January 31, 2020 to file the quarterly contribution payment for October 1 to December 31, 2019.

December 20 – Deadline to apply for private plan exemptions.  Employers have until December 20 to apply for a private plan exemption.  These exemptions will be retroactive to October 1, meaning that companies that receive a private plan exemption do not need to collect payroll deductions for this quarter. 

Private insurers are starting to offer family and medical leave coverage that meets the requirements for private plan exemptions.  DFML has published this list of insurers currently offering plans:

https://www.mass.gov/files/documents/2019/10/01/PFML_DEC_v100119_for_web.pdf

We have heard from several clients that they have successfully been approved for exemptions based on these new private plans.  In addition to a private plan, employers will need a PFML policy that meets PFML requirements.  We have model policies available for our clients – please contact us if you need one or if you need any other guidance on the exemption process.

As a reminder, certain employers are exempt from PFML and do not need to collect and remit payroll contributions.  These employers include religious institutions, real estate brokers, insurance agents, and others.  Employers also do not need to collect payroll contributions for services performed for a son, daughter, or spouse, services performed by a son or daughter if under 18, and services provided by work-study students and interns for non-profits and public institutions.

The DFML has also clarified that properly classified independent contractors are not included in an employer’s workforce count, provided the workforce is less than 50% independent contractors.  This requires that the employers be sure that such people are properly classified as independent contractors under Massachusetts law. 

Finally, we recommend that all employers focus on improving performance management.  Under the PFML statute, any negative employment action (such as a demotion or layoff) taken against an employee while on leave or in the six months following leave is presumed to be retaliatory.  Employers can protect themselves by documenting performance problems for all employees as they occur and following up with written warnings, performance improvement plans, and disciplinary action as needed.

Please reach out if you have any questions about the upcoming PFML deadlines.  You can also learn more about the new law here:

http://law.marshallhalem.com/get-ready-for-massachusetts-paid-family-and-medical-leave-a-to-do-list-for-employers-april-2019/

http://law.marshallhalem.com/preparing-for-the-massachusetts-paid-family-and-medical-leave-payroll-tax-march-2019/

http://law.marshallhalem.com/massachusetts-enacts-paid-family-leave-and-15-minimum-wage-july-2018/